Home > Uncategorized > Delaware River Drownings, “The Hot Dog Man”, and Flemington Stench Share A Common Root

Delaware River Drownings, “The Hot Dog Man”, and Flemington Stench Share A Common Root

The NJ DEP – The “D” Stands for “Deception”, “Denial” & “Delay”

With a few issues I worked on for a long time back in the news, I thought I’d provide a few quick updates:

I) Delaware Drownings and “The Hot Dog Man”

It seems like deception and denial and delay is DEP’s MO here.

There have been a series of recent drownings in the Delaware river (see today’s Hunterdon County Democrat story:  State Park Police investigating death following July 7 Delaware River tube trip

DEP just got caught red handed in and was called out for a “D”, for deception.

DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese initially said State Police were leading the investigation, but confirmed today that State Park Police are taking the lead.

DEP initially falsely denied a role in the investigation, but that’s nothing compared to the fact that DEP  has been in denial on this issue for a long time.

Most recently, the DEP denial is related to their failure to address these serious growing risks in a sweetheart controversial lease to “The Hot Dog Man”.

For background on “The Hot Dog” man dispute, see:

For the most recent developments in that controversy, see today’s Hunterdon County Democrat story on what that’s all about:  Kingwood to hear from Delaware River Tubing’s environmental expert tonight, July 10

The DEP lease to the “Hot Dog Man” fails to adequately address safety issues.

That is an egregious omission that they do not want to be held accountable for, so they had a reason to mislead the press about the DEP role in the drowning investigation. With DEP taking the lead might come questions about DEP policy on Delaware drowning risk.

The failure of DEP to properly address safety issues in the lease also may put the State of NJ and its taxpayers on the hook for liability.

That liability could arise  in the event of lawsuits from the families of any drowning victims that use the river, the D&R Canal State Park along the river, and/or the tubing services provided by the Hot Dog Man under the State DEP lease.

Potential DEP liability and the DEP lease with the Hot Dog Man also are conflicts of interest and good reasons why the DEP Park Police should not be conducting this most recent drowning investigation.

The DEP should take responsibility for river safety, in the same way that the National Park Service issues river safety warnings and guidance at the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area.

Safety is an essential government function.

DEP has denied and abdicated that role. even for safety related to use of a State Park and the leasing state park lands to a river tubing operation associated with drowning risk.

Why should river safety  be the role of a local business?

Drowning risks along this stretch of the Delaware are a longstanding problem – as is DEP’s denial about it.

In a October 2012 interview in the Philadelphia Review of Books, I noted the following on Delaware drowning risk:

a teenager from Trenton drowned in the Delaware River recently while picnicking with his family at Bull’s Island. The river there has a dangerous “rip current” created by the chute in an old wing dam. There were no crocodile tears cried for that tragedy and the DEP didn’t even take steps to post signs at access points along the river warning about the hazard.

That current in the river along the park is a real and high risk they totally ignore while chasing absurdly low probability ghosts from trees. Why? Two reasons: 1) kids from Trenton just don’t matter to this administration; and 2) the Commissioner has a warped view of nature (he had a similar over-reaction when he shut down oyster restoration research in a polluted waters project because theoretically someone could poach the oysters and might get sick). He sees risks from nature, while he deregulates real risks from chemical plants and industry. The DEP press office routinely blames “nature” for environmental problems: sunlight for air pollution; wind for ocean algae blooms.

So, looks like DEP press office is at it again

II) Stench From Johanna Farms Flemington Plant

Johanna Farms stench is back in the news, see today”s aptly titled  Hunterdon County Democrat story:  Johanna Foods to return July 10 with revised plan for preventing wastewater stenches

We broke and have been involved in that case for years, see:

Johanna still has not installed the new treatment systems to control odors the DEP should have mandated several years ago.

DEP gets the “D” for delay in this case.

Case closed.

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