TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner, Barbara Buono and Bob Smith that would require that local governments be notified any time a hazardous site remediation is performed within the boundaries of the municipality.
“It took six months for the DEP to inform Hamilton Township that contaminated concrete was used to build a road at the American Metro office complex,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “For local residents, six months is too long to be in the dark about potential exposure to hazardous substances. When it comes to environmental contamination, time is of the essence in addressing the problem and protecting residents from health dangers.”
The bill, S-1711, would require any person who performs a remediation of a contaminated site to provide a written notice with the location of the site to the governing body of each municipality in which the site is found. The bill also would make the same requirement of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), when conducting a remediation of a contaminated site using public money.
“Municipal governments are the best equipped to inform local residents of environmental problems in their neighborhood. The fact that local governments are left in the dark about remediation efforts is troubling,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “As the problems with the Ford Plant clean up have shown us, it’s critical that local governments are in the loop when such sensitive clean up projects are undertaken.”
It was found that dust and concrete waste created by the clean up of the former Ford Plant site in Edison contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that posed a health danger to individuals living close to the clean up site as well as the locations where contaminated soil from the site was used as fill. Plans are now under development on how to clean up sites in Hamilton, West Windsor, Brick and Upper Ringwood that were recipients of soil and debris from the Ford Plant site.
“This bill provides transparency and ensures that municipal officials have ample warning when a polluted site exists in their backyard,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, Chair of the Senate Environment Committee. “Notification gives them the ability to take proper precautions to protect residents and their property, and ensures that homeowners are not left footing the bill for industrial pollution they may not have been aware of.”
The bill would also require the DEP, within 30 days after the date of enactment, to notify the governing body of each municipality in the State of the existence of the New Jersey master list of known hazardous discharge sites available on the DEP’s website.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 39-0. It now goes to the Assembly for their consideration.