In good news for residents of Bound Brook, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) stated Thursday that they've finished trucking thousands of cubic yards of soil laced with carcinogens out of Bound Brook last month. The contaminated dirt has found a new home at a Superfund site in the Keasbey section of Woodbridge.
The soil, which contains low levels of benzo(a)pyrene, a highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon found in coal tar, was illegally dumped by a contractor in a Bound Brook flood zone. After years of lawsuits, the soil was ordered to be moved, which has been counted as a victory for Bound Brook.
State officials proudly proclaimed their triumph in a statement released yesterday.
"This is an important victory for the residents of Bound Brook,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Our message remains simple and clear: huge piles of illegally placed dirt such as those in Bound Brook are not going to be tolerated.”
"This was an important environmental, legal and quality-of-life matter, and we're glad to have had a role in resolving it on behalf of the residents of Bound Brook,” added Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. “We remain committed to working with DEP – and to taking legal action wherever necessary – in order to protect New Jersey communities from environmental dangers."
Officials have called the dumping of the contaminated dirt in Keasbey - located downriver from Bound Brook - to be "a good fit." No explanation has been given why moving contaminated dirt onto an already-contaminated site located on the very same river isn't dangerous for the water, the wetlands, or people in Woodbridge.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, has been vehemently opposed to dumping the dirt in Woodbridge.
"The piles in Bound Brook were in areas that flood with the potential for contaminated dirt to get into people’s homes and basement. However piling this contamination Woodbridge and other sites in Edison is just making things worse in those communities," he said in a statement.
The trucking of the contaminated soil started last March. Initially, 40,000 cubic yards of the dirt was to be moved and used as grading material; that number increased 25 percent to 50,000 cubic yards when the removal project was completed in December, 2012.
The dirt now rests on 120 already-contaminated acres of the former Nuodex site that Mayor John McCormac wants to turn into an idyllic Raritan River retreat for township residents.
Hiking, trails, and boardwalks will exist cheek-by-jowl with 50 acres of the park being used for "business development," McCormac had said at a previous press conference. Another 25 to 40 acres of the site will also be dedicated to a 700 megawatt natural gas power plant with 250 foot high stacks.
The gas plant will be highly subsidized, and is expected to cost taxpayers and ratepayers millions of dollars.
"We have always been opposed to the DEP policy of putting contaminated in soil putting onto existing contaminated areas which just makes matters worse. We have seen problems with that policy in places like the EnCap in the Meadowlands or Fennimore Landfill in Roxbury," said Tittel, who criticized the Christie Administration for weakening the DEP and turning what he said were formerly environmental violators into "customers".
"This should have been removed and taken to a hazardous landfill, not being put under new developments in other towns."