In Harm’s Way

Would you send your child to this school?

*** Apologies – NJ.Com took down the photos, which were originally published on my “NJ Voices” column at NJ.Com. I was able to save the text, but not the photos. What assholes.

Paulsboro High School in the shadow of the Valero refinery. The plant emits tons of toxic air pollutants and has a record of upsets that have coated the community in oily residues.)

[Update: 11/30/12:   Toxic Chemicals Released In South Jersey Train Accident Force Evacuation – end update]

I stole my headline from the Houston Chronicle’s award winning investigative seriesIn Harm’s Way” here’s a taste of what that was all about:

“The results of the Chronicle’s investigation show that the region’s refining and petrochemical industries are in some places contributing to what leading experts on toxic air pollution would consider a risky load of “air toxics,” substances that can cause cancer, kidney and liver damage, or other serious health effects in places where people live and work, and where children play.”.

The NJ DEP does not require chemical plants that emit tons of cancer causing hazardous air pollutants to monitor actual ambient concentrations at the fence line of the plant.

This data is required to understand the health impacts of those emissions on surrounding homes, schools and people. DEP does not require health risk assessment before granting air pollution permits that allow industries to release these toxic chemicals to our air.

Current DEP air permit rules make risk assessment and air modeling voluntary – of course no chemical company has volunteered to study the health impacts of its pollution on the surrounding neighborhood kids. Impacted communities are kept in the dark and DEP is flying blind – no data, no health effects monitoring, and no science.

THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS- where is NJ’s Houston Chronicle?

We sure have Texas sized pollution problems here. NJ is the most densely populated place on earth where schools and residential neighborhoods are virtually right on top of chemical plants and refineries.

Would you want your kids to play hockey right next to chemical plants?

Youth hockey rink directly adjacent and downwind of chemical plant. Kids literally were hyper-ventilating and inhaling hydrocarbons at unknown exposure and safety levels.)

Would you want your son playing football or your daughter cheer-leading downwind of organic chemicals?

Athletic fields and a school are adjacent to and directly downwind of chemical plant. DEP regulations do not set ambient health standards or require that the plant monitor “fence-line” emissions impacts.)

How would you like to live here? Would you sleep at night?

House and residential neighborhood within feet of chlorine rail tanker cars. Tanker cars were easily accessible and unprotected. Chlorine gas release would be deadly.)

Would you like to drop off your child at this day care center in the morning?

This location injects new meaning to parental fear of their children’s “exposure (my kids went to day care and this risk sure transcends pink eye, strep throat, and flu I worried about as a parent).

Day care center shoe horned within feet of deadly chlorine rail tanker cars (pictured above) and chemical facility (below)

Entrance gates to Dupont chemical plant. Photo shot from in front of day care center (left) and approximately 300 feet from homes and chlorine tanker cars (above))

Most homes near chemical plants are occupied by poor, black, or working class residents. Would you like a plant in your neighborhood? Shouldn’t the plants do more to eliminate or reduce toxic chemical emissions and monitor to assure protection of health and the environment?

Homes across the street from the Dupont Chambers Works chemical plant (below), one of the largest in the world. The plant emits tons of chemicals to air and water that have unknown human health and environmental impacts.)

Dupont is one of the largest polluters and one of the most profitable corporations in the world. Shouldn’t they be required to prove that their operations are safe BEFORE they are allowed to pollute?

Entrance to the Dupont Chambers Works plant – note house in background. Dupont discharges tons of toxic pollutants is not required to monitor ambient conditions in adjacent residential neighborhoods or track community health.)

  1. nohesitation
    March 2nd, 2008 at 12:58 | #1

    Don’t worry folks, we’re only poisoning our kids –
    Keep on driving and shopping till you drop.

  2. jessea
    March 3rd, 2008 at 10:36 | #2

    How about everyone is being poisoned not just kids? How about pollution is sucking the life out of every living thing on the planet, including but not limited to kids. To generalize, or use only kids as an example to get someone’s attention should not be the case here. We are ruining the planet for all living creatures both present and future and pollution does not discriminate towrds age. People that have to drive to make a living is a repercussion of what we have been left to deal with. It is not so much of a choice as it is a necessity to own and drive a vehicle of some type.
    In NJ citizens don’t have much of a choice but to drive wherever we have to go, and that includes going to work every day, not shopping. As far as driving til we drop, maybe so given what we NJ residents have at our disposal but you seem to be making the assumption that the people who have to work every day and are not able to shop til we drop have other choices than getting into their cars to get to work
    Do you have any suggestions how we can get to work every day given that development in NJ has created a landscape of sprawl and because of that people have no choice but to drive no everywhere.
    I would prefer public transporation to driving every day of the week but in Central Jersey we do not have that option. There are no buses here.
    So tell me sir do you drive and shop til you drop or do you drive to work everyday? Is public transportation an option for you and if so do you use it?

  3. nohesitation
    March 3rd, 2008 at 22:13 | #3

    Hi Jessea – obviously, I realize that we are all being poisoned, but biologically kids are far more susceptible to toxics than adults and politically lots of folsk care about the next genetration, so a focus on kids has an opportnity to mobilize parents and others concerned.
    I like to win and use winning tactics.
    I agree that choices are limited – that’s why we all need to agitate for more choices, adn not just transportation alternatives.
    WE are living in an overwhelmingly consumerist materialist culture – that is a major part of the problem. Shop till you drop is an invidious distinction, luxury and recreation, but not necessity for working people.
    Even in dispersed suburban sprawl central NJ, there are lots of alternative to getting to work via a single occupant car – employer trip reduction mandates, telecommuting, van pools, car pools, car share, flex hours, work at home, 4 day work weeks, bicycles, etcetera.,
    Public transportation is not an option, but I bicycle a lot and I NEVER shop till I drop. I am greatly reducing energy and materials consumption, I try to live simply, and I have a home office. My car gets 40 mpg’s and I drive very little these days. So I am trying hard.
    WE all will be forced to do this with coming peak oil – you should read “The Long Emergency” (google it)

  4. jessea
    March 5th, 2008 at 06:51 | #4

    Hi – I am ordering the book “The Long Emergency.” Practically the whole book is online but I figured my printer might not want to handle the over 300 pages.
    Thanks, looks like interesting reading.

  5. Dakota4x4
    January 25th, 2009 at 18:32 | #5

    Many of you are going to think that I am Anti enviorment I’m not.
    But looking at the sign on the Dupont plant I notice a date 1880 from the look of the houses and school they were built after the plant. Who would built and buy next to a chemical plant.The nore we build mass transit the more people move to the country as it were and by the time the project is done it is overloaded.Global warning is not proven though anyone with common sense would say we should take steps to minimize our contribution to it.
    I don’t see wind and solar as being a large part of the solution. Too many of them. Nuclear power I think is the only viable way to go.
    Personaly I would like to see all plastic packaging done away with. Including bottles i think going back to glass would make sense.
    In closing I think that to much of what gets printed in the press is cooked science and does not take in all of the consquences just like the ethenol scam.

  6. November 30th, 2012 at 11:51 | #6

    I would look to see if this bridge was unsafe and needed repairs many years ago.

  7. November 30th, 2012 at 14:15 | #7

    Dan :
    I would look to see if this bridge was unsafe and needed repairs many years ago.

  1. September 18th, 2009 at 10:57 | #1
  2. October 29th, 2009 at 12:02 | #2
  3. February 24th, 2012 at 12:12 | #3
  4. November 30th, 2012 at 10:40 | #4
  5. March 3rd, 2023 at 14:22 | #5
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