Home > Uncategorized > Blaming the Department of Education Is A Diversionary Coverup Of DEP Regulatory Failures On Lead In Drinking Water

Blaming the Department of Education Is A Diversionary Coverup Of DEP Regulatory Failures On Lead In Drinking Water

Going down the same road of fake solutions as in the Kiddie Kollege mercury daycare scandal

Does anyone remember this 2006 outrage – the NY Times reported:

Memo Shows Agency Knew of Danger in Child Care Building

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection knew in 1994 that a building that later housed a Gloucester County day care center was so dangerous that state inspectors were instructed to use respirators when entering the building, according to an internal memo obtained by The New York Times yesterday.

But the site remained contaminated, and as far as the department knew, unoccupied, until inspectors visited it in April and found that Kiddie Kollege, a day care center serving children as young as 8 months old, was operating in the building. Yet the center, which is in Franklin Township, was allowed to remain open for more than three months, until state environmental investigators determined in late July that the site was still contaminated. …

The internal memo, dated Oct. 12, 1994, said “Level C at a minimum is required for entry into the building,” meaning respirators were required, said Bill Wolfe, a former department employee who is the director of New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a watchdog group that provided a copy of the memo.

In that case, the focus and legislative and regulatory reform agenda was diverted to the Department of Education’s daycare center certification program, not the total breakdown of DEP regulatory oversight of the toxic site remediation program. Even DEP was forced to admit:(NY Times)

A timeline released by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection describes how a series of missed opportunities and incomplete communications over the past 12 years put children at risk.

This diversion was engineered by powerful corporate polluters, who would be subject to stricter DEP regulatory oversight and huge new financial and legal liabilities for the risks of “vapor intrusion” into buildings.

Instead of addressing those real problems, fake daycare licensing solutions were crafted and DEP failures continued and as a result people were needlessly poisoned for years.

Well, we’re heading down exactly the same road in responding to the lead in drinking water crisis.

NJ Spotlight today reports on the “Lead Roundtable”, see:

Just as we warned, the lead reform agenda has been hijacked and the work of NJ Future and the focus of NJ Spotlight’s coverage demonstrate that.

Blaming the Department of Education is a blatant diversion from DEP regulatory failures.

Lead in drinking water is NOT a DoE responsibility – it is exclusively a DEP responsibility under the NJ State and federal Safe Drinking Water Acts.

DEP has the legal responsibility, the regulatory apparatus, the institutional structure, the programs, the staff, the resources, and the scientific expertise to regulate lead risks. DoE has none of that.

In contrast to this misplaced (intentionally hijacked) NJ focus, in the wake of the Flint Michigan lead scandal, we saw this:

2 Michigan regulators take plea deals in Flint water case

LANSING, Mich. – Two Michigan environmental regulators implicated in the Flint water scandal pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor Wednesday in exchange for more serious charges being dropped, bringing to six the number of officials who have agreed to such deals.

Michael Prysby pleaded no contest to a count of violating Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, and Stephen Busch pleaded no contest to disturbing a public meeting. They had been charged with felonies, but those charges were dropped under the terms of their deals, which also require them to testify against others, as needed.

The misplaced focus of the Spotlight Roundtable and today’s coverage are no accident – that’s exactly the objective of the NJ Future hijackers.

As more evidence of that, here are pointed fact based questions I submitted on February 13 to NJ Spotlight Reporter and Roundtable moderator Jon Hurdle – Mr. Hurdle just confirmed that NONE of them were asked.

Hi Jon – I’d attend and ask these questions, but am currently basking in the Arizona desert and unable to do so.

1. Is “corrosion control” effective?

For many years, US EPA, NJ DEP and the water companies have told us that “corrosion control” is adequately protective for lead and therefore the traditional Safe Drinking Water Act MCL framework and provisions are not appropriate.

So, is corrosion control effective and adequately protective of public health and sensitive receptors?

If yes, then why are we spending millions on removal of lead pipes and fixtures?

If not, then why doesn’t NJ DEP abandon the program and adopt a real MCL and treatment and removal regulatory regime for lead?

2. What do NJ’s “Private Well Testing Act” data collected by DEP tell us about the lead issue?

The NJ legislature passed the Private Well Testing Act – read about the Act and the DEP PWTA program here from DEP website:


DEP used to issue Reports that resented and analyzed the data. But no more. See:

  • DEP Has Not Reported Residential Drinking Water Well Data for Over 5 Years


Prior DEP PWTA Reports found high frequencies and high levels of lead in drinking water, see:

  • NJ DEP Has Know For YEARS that Up to 18% of NJ Homes Have High Lead Levels


Why has DEP not acted on that data (i.e. to regulate) or published that data to better warn the public?

What do that data tell us about important technical factors in developing a policy and program, and not just about allocating the money, facts like:

a) mapping the location of homes with high lead levels (an important EJ indicator in considering overburdened communities with cumulative exposure and child blood exceedences. This can be done by census tract, neighborhood, or municipality to maintain confidentiality of specific homes, as mandated by legislature in the PWTA));

b) age of homes (indictor of additional exposures from both lead paint, lead water pipes, and soil exposures from air deposition, old leaded gas emission still bound to soils and contaminated sites);

c) source water chemistry (important to know in whether corrosion control works – just ask the folks in Flint about that!;

3. If we’re spending so much money on lead removal and remediation and are serious about environmental justice and climate change, then why do we continue to allow emissions of significant amounts of bioavailable lead in overburdened NJ cities?

Garbage incinerators still operate in Newark, Camden, and Rahway,among others (in Warren and Gloucester Co.).

Those facilities are significant sources of lead air emissions, which deposit locally and poison kids.

They are located in DEP designated overburden EJ cities.

They also emit greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that cause adverse health effects.

Their bonds have been paid off and the original DEP air permits and BPU & DEP approved “Service Agreements” have expired.

They were granted expensive “above market” subsidized electric energy contracts as “incentives” under federal. law (PURPA) and State policy adopted in the 1980’s to address “the solid waste crisis”.

They undermine efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste generation.

Why don’t we just shut them down?

Please pose these questions at your forum

When will the legislature and the media start to focus on the same regulatory flaws and corruption that occurred in Flint Michigan?

When will they ask: What did DEP know, when did they know it, and what did they do with that knowledge?

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