Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Secretly Approved A Trump EPA Chemical Experiment In an EJ Community, Then They Attacked The Public For Objecting

Murphy DEP Secretly Approved A Trump EPA Chemical Experiment In an EJ Community, Then They Attacked The Public For Objecting

Gov. Murphy’s DEP Commissioner McCabe and her political hatchet man Sean LaTourette must resign and apologize to the people of New Jersey.

First, they secretly worked with and approved a Trump EPA “research” project at the Rahway NJ garbage incinerator. Rahway is a heavily poor and minority “environmental justice” community already overburdened with pollution.

The Trump EPA project was designed to understand the combustion of a family of toxic chemicals knows as PFAS.

Because Dupont and the Pentagon have huge quantities of these toxic chemicals that must be disposed of, the overall objective of this EPA research was almost certainly to promote the burning of PFAS waste in municipal garbage incinerators – a totally unacceptable and low cost and highly polluting disposal alternative.

Regardless of the scientific merits or policy objectives of this research, it is grossly unprofessional, likely illegal, and a totally unforgivable breach of trust for a regulatory agency to operate like that in secret.

Just as bad, it shows bad faith and extremely poor political judgement – at a time when US cities are literally on fire with BLM protests – for DEP to secretly work with EPA and the Rahway incinerator company Covanta and approve a chemical research project with public health implications in an EJ community.

DEP’s behavior was morally repugnant.

When former EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck blew the whistle on this research, of course, the public, the Rahway community, and EJ advocates were outraged. Of course, the media wrote extremely negative stories and – because the project had been kept a total secret and was designed behind the community’s back – of course social media exploded.

Second, in response to public outrage, DEP Commissioner McCabe and Mr. Latourette blamed the public. (NJ Spotlight)

LaTourette said protesters, particularly in New Jersey’s environmental justice communities, had “misperceptions” about what the incineration would consist of, and misplaced fears that the experiment posed a risk to public health.

“Bad information can sow mistrust, and it can sow a misunderstanding of the facts that can lead folks to think that they are in danger of being harmed, and that’s the last thing we want,” he told reporters.


McCabe and LaTourette must resign and apologize, NOW. They have lost credibility and the trust necessary to lead a public agency.

For the record, on August 22, 2020, I first learned of this scandal and immediately wrote DEP Commissioner McCabe this email, demanding that it be terminated and the Covanta garbage incinerator permits be revoked.

According to DEP records, the Covanta permit expired on June 30, 2020, so it looks like this whole scheme was developed when their air permit was being reviewed by DEP, which, from a regulatory perspective, is another huge example of misconduct.

On 08/22/2020 7:05 PM Bill WOLFE <bill_wolfe@comcast.net>  wrote:

Dear Commissioner McCabe:

Today I became aware of EPA sponsored and NJ DEP approved “research” regarding combustion of PFAS surrogates at the Covanta garbage incinerator in Union, NJ, see:


Before I can intelligently make informed objections to the substantive merits of this proposal, I must raise serious procedural defects with this proposal that must be remedied before further consideration or implementation of this proposed “research”.

1. The proposed research is not incorporated and certified by NJ DEP, as required, in the Union County Solid Waste Management Plan. See the DEP’s documents:



2. The proposed research is not included in the NJ DEP and US EPA approved air control permits for the Covanta facility.

There are no parameter specific air pollution monitoring and control or emission limits.

There was no air quality modeling or quantitative risk assessment conducted, as required by NJ DEP regulations.

There was no public notice, public hearing or opportunity for public comment on the proposed “research” as required by applicable NJ DEP regulations.

3. The proposed research may trigger NJ DEP “hazardous waste facility” and hazardous waste incinerator air pollution control and HW treatment and disposal facility permit requirements under EPA delegated federal RCRA and the HSWA of 1984, as well as NJ’s State hazardous waste management regulations.

The DEP apparently conducted no review or consideration of these regulatory requirements and no public participation process prior to “approval”.

4. In addition to these gross regulatory failures, the entire concept of conducting “research” on combustion and air emissions of hazardous substances at a commercial solid waste facility located in and polluting an environmental justice community is morally repugnant.

I make the following demands:

1. Please reverse and over-rule the DEP’s prior “approval” of this “research”.

2. Then please publicly apologize for secretly reviewing and approving this “research”.

3. Then revoke the NJ DEP air permits for the Covanta garbage incinerator, which I understand expired on June 30, 2020.

4. Please provide a public notice and link to the underlying technical documents and full administrative record on this proposed “research.

I look forward to your timely and favorable reply.


Bill Wolfe

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