Home > Uncategorized > Local Government Taking Control As Regulators “Twiddle Thumbs”

Local Government Taking Control As Regulators “Twiddle Thumbs”

Town “Tired of Living In An Environmental Nightmare”

Seth Augustine at the Star Ledger wrote a very interesting story yesterday on the cleanup of a toxic site in Carteret, see:

Taking its environmental fate in its own hands, Carteret plans to sue to clean up U.S. Metals site

CARTERET — Tired of living in an “environmental nightmare,” Carteret is taking the initiative in forcing the clean-up of a former metal refinery site, the mayor said today.

The borough has given notice that it plans to sue, if necessary, to force a cleanup of the former U.S. Metals site off Middlesex Avenue, said Mayor Daniel Reiman. Though much of the site has been vacant since the 1980s, the mayor said it still bears the contamination from more than a half-century of copper and lead refining.

“This is not something typically a municipality does,” Reiman agreed. “But we can no longer sit idly by while environmental agencies twiddle their thumbs.”

[Note: read Mayor’s statement – no lawsuit filed yet.]

Obviously, the story raises interesting legal issues of statewide concern, but I’m more interested right now in the idea that local government must act because State and federal regulators have abdicated their responsibility and, as Mayor  Reiman says, are “twiddling their thumbs”.

Coincidentally, the cleanup of the Carteret US Metals site was governed by a 24 year old (failed) NJ DEP Adminsitrative Consent Order (ACO).

Carteret echoes DEP failures across the state, most recently visible in the Garfield chromium nightmare.

So too was the Dupont toxic nightmare in Pompton Lakes under a 1988 DEP ACO.

There’s more “consent” to polluters than “order” to clean it up in those DEP ACO’s.

But, in contrast to Carteret’s leadership in trying to escape from an “environmental nightmare”, the Mayor and Council in Pompton Lakes have consistently supported Dupont, the polluter, and failed to take any action to protect residents.

Carteret’s local government action becomes even more interesting in light of the privatization of NJ’s toxic site cleanup program.

That privatization put “mercenaries” in total control of the cleanup process and essentially eliminated the consultative role of municipal governments, as well as any meaningful community involvement in critical cleanup decisions.

Those private decisions significantly impact their health, property values, and the economic redevelopment potential of the town.

Let’s hope this story gets legs in the media and that more NJ Towns take their own environmental fate into their hands.

Then maybe the regulators will get off their asses and stop twiddling their thumbs and enforce the environmental laws.

But, I am under know illusion that this will happen under the “customer friendly” Christie Administration’s DEP.

In fact, the Christie policy is aptly characterized by Mayor Reisman: thumb twiddling!


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.