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History Dumped On

Illegal Paint Dumping at History Farm – Immoral Budget Dumping at Trenton Barracks

[Update: 8/2/11 Trenton Times covers the story – but they left out the fact that the initial cleanup was limited to the puddle. The initial cleanup left over a 300 feet long, 2 foot wide paint gully remaining (see photo below). I had to go back to the site and basically threaten to get a DEP HazMat team to the site before I could convince the Park supervisor to direct the contractor to cleanup all the stained soil. As written, the Times story makes it appear that the Hopewell cops, DEP and the park supervisor were diligent. That is just not true. The cops were there for just minutes, issued no violations, and left before the half assed initial “cleanup” of just the puddles was done. Neither DEP (who deferred to Hopewell cops) nor the Park supervisor actually monitored the cleanup and neither verified that it was done right. I had to do that. Given this omisssion, my quote in the story makes it appear that I am only interested in taking credit, instead of the fact that I had to do so because others in positions of authority failed to do so. See: Contractor cleans up paint spill at Howell Living History Farm – end update]

Headed out for a lunchtime walk with my new pup Buoy to Baldpate Mountain yesterday, but ran into some trouble and never got there (see this for some Baldpate pics).

It was hot, so I thought we’d begin with a refreshing visit to the Creek that runs behind Howell Living History Farm before heading out (a Delaware tributary that runs parallel to Pleasant Valley Road) (see photo’s of the lovely history farm, a great place to bring the family!).

The Creek was bone dry, so Buoy scampered across and was headed for liquid refreshment from what I could see was a puddle. I grabbed him before he got there – a good thing - because the puddle was filled with a milk white substance I initially thought must be milk. The puddles had filled and drained off to the nearby dry steam bed.

I followed the stream of white fluid back up the hill towards its source on the farm. But about 300 feet later I came across painters, not cows. 

A general contractor (from Pennsylvania with a PA crew) told me he had washed out his equipment there – paint cans, brushes, etc. He told me not to worry, it was only latex paint. He had total disregard for the place – a County park – or the environment. When I told him that it was illegal to do that, he said: “What else was I supposed to do with it (the paint)”.  Take a look at the white paint gully he created – it that ran for 300 feet or so:

dumped paint cuts a gully as it heads down the road towards the creek

dumped paint cuts a gully as it heads down the road towards the creek

I called the DEP Hotline to report illegal dumping (1-877-WARNDEP) and then headed over to the Delaware River so Buoy could get a much needed drink of water.

I returned to the scene of the crime about an hour later, and spoke with a Hopewell police officer.

Hopewell cops are known to be the law and order type (especially if you’re driving while black, if you know what I mean.) 

The cop advised me that the dumping had not reached the stream, that it was only latex paint, and that the contractor was going to clean it up and never do it again. That sounded like the Wall Street enforcement policy to me.

I guess assaults on the environment are no big deal to Hopewell cops – but better watch that speedometer in those 25 mph speedtraps that dot that upscale town.

So, I drove Buoy home, had lunch, and did a little Googling on the composition and toxicity of latex paint. Couldn’t find much, but did come across this:

Interior latex generally has low toxicity; exterior latex may still contain mercury-containing biocides. Any latex may contain mercury-containing biocides if manufactured before 1991. Some states do consider latex paint a hazardous waste.

and this, which particularly gave me pause, as ethylene glycol is the cause of death for thousands of dogs and cats, who find its sweet taste irresistable:

Latex paint was touted as the safer alternative to oil-based paint. But there are very harmful solvents used in latex paint that are hard to detect. Ethylene Glycol is one of the most commonly used latex solvents; it’s also used in anti-freeze, known for its toxicity. Common Latex paint is not as safe as many would like you to believe.

So about an hour later, I went back with my camera to document the cleanup.

The contractor had only dug out the puddles. Over 300 feet of white paint stained soil remained.

So, I complained again to the Mercer County Parks manager (Gary?), who then asked the contractor to do a complete cleanup of all paint stained soil. The contractor reluctantly agreed. It was now almost 4 pm, so I stressed the need to do it before Friday night’s rain. Greg agreed and suggested that the contractor tarp the soil he scraped up until he could remove it on Monday.

I’m headed back today (on bicycle) to see what was done. As I warned, it did rain heavily last night, so if there is no tarped soil pile, it may have all washed away into the creek and then the Delaware River. Just another non-point source pollutant. No big deal, right? WRONG. 

In other news, coincidentally, in metaphorical dumping on history, today’s Trenton Times reports that Governor Christie’s line item budget vetos include defunding the historic Trenton Barracks. The place survived the Revolutionary War, but not Christie’s attacks.

It survived the Revolution, but Christie budget reductions may cause Trenton barracks to close

TRENTON — The fate of the Old Barracks Museum, stripped earlier this summer of $375,000 in state funding, remains in limbo.

The museum, one of the few significant buildings remaining from the 1776 and 1777 Battles of Trenton, was one of five cultural institutions to lose direct funding after Gov. Chris Christie cut $900 million from the Democrats’ budget through line-item vetoes in late June.

This is not Governor Christie’s first assault on Trenton’s history. See: Christie Buries Trenton’s History – Kills 1730’s Petty’s Run Restoration

Just like that painter, Christie has no regard for the place or its history. The Governor has a warped view and perverse priorities. 

Fundraising at Barracks - Welcome to Christie-World
Fundraising at Barracks – Welcome to Christie-World





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