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Sandy Scam – DEP Washes Its Hands of Any Role in Toxic Site Cleanup

The Public Is At the Complete Mercy of the Mercenaries For Information

The Public Right To Know Just Eliminated by DEP

“I had many, many calls from mayors who simply were not getting enough information,” he said. “And even though the utilities had done what they were supposed to do and appointed a liaison for each town, those liaisons either lacked information or were not given good information. I don’t know what was worse — people not getting any information or being told the wrong information, but that was very, very frustrating and understandably so.”

Governor Christie, answering questions from reporters after a Sandy recovery event at a firehouse in Middletown Township on Monday, said the utility companies need to be more forthright with their customers.  ~~~ Bergen Record 11/26/12

[ Update 12/24/12 – Now this is truly Orwellian – DEP says they aren’t getting any calls from the public. Could that be because DEP ordered DEP contact info removed from signs at toxic waste sites? AP story

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency has done visual inspections of major brownfield sites and also alerted towns and cities to be on the lookout for problems. Ragonese said they just aren’t getting calls voicing such concerns. ~~~  end update

[Update below]

It’s not just the utilities who have a responsibilty to communicate with the public they purportedly serve. Government has that responsibility as well. Christie needs to walk the talk with his own agencies.

So, at a time of increasing public concerns about potential impacts of Sandy on toxic waste sites, this is truly one of the most stunning statements DEP has ever made.

Coming at a time of environmental crisis caused by Superstorm Sandy – with heightened public concerns about whether storm surge and flood waters may have washed out contaminants from toxic sites – makes it even more extreme, reckless, and irresponsible.

(see Wall Street Journal: Sandy Stirs Toxic Worry)

In an extraordinary move, in a Nov. 26, 2012 blast email titled:  “Calling all RPs and LSRPs! Know Your Role Regarding Public Inquiries“, DEP is now mandating the removal of  public information regarding how to contact DEP for information at thousands of toxic waste sites across the state.

In an update to the DEP’s “Public Notification & Outreach Guidance” and the “Public Inquiry Policy”, DEP just directed private consultants to expunge DEP contact information:

Signs must be updated immediately to delete contact information for the NJDEP Office of Community Relations and replace it with LSRP contact information.

So, now people who live down the street from a toxic site have no independent information about who to call at DEP – or government – to find out what’s going on and whether they should be concerned about toxic risks.

The public is completely reliant on private consultants – and DEP is taking steps to make that control even greater.

Orwell wrote about a man who worked at the Ministry of Truth, spending his days sanitizing the public record by deleting inconvenient information – DEP has just acted in exactly that Orwellian fashion by erasing signs posted at toxic sites of any DEP contact information.

Truly. Fucking. Amazing!

[Update – maybe Legislative oversight could help:

Dear Senator Greenstein –

I believe that I worked with you on this issue, and as a result,  you sponsored the legislation to require posting of signs at toxic waste sites in order to improve communications and advance the public’s right to know.

Thus, I assume you would be concerned about the below DEP Guidance, which directs the deletion of DEP contact information from those signs.

That move is especially troubling right now when the public has legitimate questions about affects of Superstorm Sandy.

Could you contact DEP Commissioner Martin about this?


Bill Wolfe

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