Archive for March, 2022

Murphy DEP Allows PSE&G To Destroy 150 Acres Of Coastal Wetlands, With No Enforcement, Mitigation, Or Compensation Requirements

March 21st, 2022 No comments

PSE&G Nuclear Power Plant Operations Destroyed 150 Acres of Coastal Wetlands

DEP Now Proposes To Remap And Deregulate These Wetlands

DEP Fails To Consider Climate Change Driven Sea Level Rise, Storm Surge, Or Increased Storm Intensity

Compounding DEP’s corruption, I’m giving big odds that NJ’s environmental groups and owned media like NJ Spotlight – who receive generous support and grant funding from PSE&G – will not make a sound.


It is bad enough that PSE&G nuclear plants have received over $1 billion in public subsidies and will continue to receive another $300 million per year until 2050.

It is bad enough that the DEP waived cooling tower regulatory requirements for those nuclear plants, allowing them to slaughter billions of aquatic organisms, saving PSE&G hundreds of millions of dollars.

And it is bad enough that PSE&G has received millions of dollars in subsidies, below market lease contracts, and regulatory concessions (and will receive even more) to construct the wind manufacturing port at the nuclear plant site (aptly named “Artificial Island”).

[Update: 4/8/22 – I left this subsidy out – NJ Spotlight cheerleads today:

The port, costing a projected $300-400 million in public funds,

Meanwhile, nearby Salem City continues to be neglected – take a look at downtown. ~~~end update]

But now, the Murphy DEP has opened a completely new front on the subsidy and deregulation horizon. (Could cases like this be why DEP Commissioner LaTourette has centralized and consolidated power over DEP enforcement?)

We warned that back in October, the Murphy DEP approved a petition for rulemaking filed by PSE&G to deregulate 150 acres of coastal wetlands, see:

Today, DEP proposed regulations to formally remap and thereby deregulate those wetlands. (read the DEP proposal, now open for public comment).

This is one of the largest destructions of wetlands in DEP’s history, since the 1970 passage of the coastal wetlands laws.

DEP is not only allowing this destruction to occur, but is actually facilitating it by deregulation and no enforcement and providing cover by hiding behind “green energy” wind promotion.

Despite the fact that PSE&G historically destroyed regulated coastal wetlands, DEP is taking no enforcement action and its not requiring that 150 acres of destroyed wetlands be replaced via mitigation and/or compensation requirements.

DEP’s own proposal makes those points clear – as well as openly states that DEP did not consider the impacts of climate change at the site. For those that like to dwell in the weeds, here are relevant supporting excerpts from the DEP proposal:

1) PSE&G Destroyed Coastal Wetlands

PSE&G filed a petition to DEP that requested that DEP remap and thereby deregulate approximately 150 acres of coastal wetlands. The PSE&G petition made that request on the basis that: (emphasis mine)

The Petitioner contends in the petition it filed that Coastal Wetland Maps 224-1752, 224- 1758, 231-1752, 231-1758, and 238-1752 do not reflect the current property conditions due to the presence, as described above, of sand, dredged material, gravel, asphalt, parking areas, berms, and elevated topography that precludes tidal inflow and, consequently, the area in question does not meet the definition of a coastal wetland under the Act.

DEP’s proposal makes it very clear that the activities of PSE&G were responsible for destroying some of those wetlands – a US Army Corps of Engineers dredge disposal site destroyed some as well – such that they no longer meet the definition of coastal wetland: (CDF means “confined disposal facility”)

Area 2 – Block 26, Lot 4 contains the PSE&G Nuclear CDF, which is used for management of maintenance dredged material and desilting of water intake structures and the cooling tower basin. The area was initially used for construction staging and lay-down during construction of the Salem and Hope Creek Generating Station (the Station) and has been continuously used and managed to support the Station. This area also includes the PSE&G Nuclear Security Training Center and target range ….  Hydrologic characteristics are limited by the perimeter berms. Soils are highly disturbed and characterized by the historic placement of fill during the original construction of Artificial Island and the construction of the generating stations. Vegetation is dominated by invasive phragmites, due to the disturbed nature of the area.

Area 3 – Block 26, Lot 5 contains an existing PSE&G Nuclear laydown/emergency preparation area, existing employee parking areas, chill water plant, and a maintained 500kV transmission right-of-way and maintained buffer. The area consists of existing developed areas including soil/gravel laydown, asphalt parking asphalt roadways

These are the kind of findings of facts one often reads in DEP enforcement documents that impose huge enforcement fines and mandate wetlands restoration and compensation for destruction of public trust resources.

There appear to be no prior DEP permits issued for this massive wetlands destruction and there were no DEP mitigation or compensation requirements to offset this massive destruction, historically. DEP rules flat out prohibit that:

7:7-2.1 When a permit is required

(a) No person shall engage in a regulated activity subject to this chapter without a coastal permit. Initiation of a regulated activity without a coastal permit is considered a violation of this chapter and shall subject the person or persons responsible for the regulated activity to enforcement action in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:7-29.

DEP rules also warn about destroying wetlands without DEP prior review:

7:7-2.5 Obtaining an applicability determination

(a) A person may request a written applicability determination from the Department to determine the applicability of CAFRA, the Wetlands Act of 1970 (N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq.), and/or the Waterfront Development Law (N.J.S.A. 12:5-3 et seq.) to a proposed project. An applicability determination is optional, but the Department encourages persons to request one if there is uncertainty about whether a particular activity is regulated, since conducting unauthorized activities may result in enforcement action.

Here are DEP enforcement regulations that would apply to such egregious violations:

7:7-29.5 Civil administrative penalties for failure to obtain a permit prior to conducting regulated activities

(a) For the failure to obtain a permit prior to conducting regulated activities, the Department may assess a civil administrative penalty pursuant to this section of not more than $25,000 for each violation of N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2, 2.3, or 2.4.

7:7-29.6 Civil administrative penalties for violations other than failure to obtain a permit prior to conducting regulated activities

(a) For violations other than failure to obtain a permit prior to conducting regulated activities, the Department may, in its discretion, assess a civil administrative penalty pursuant to this section of not more than $25,000 for each violation of N.J.S.A. 13:19-1 et seq., N.J.S.A. 12:5-1 et seq., and/or N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq., or any regulation, rule, permit, condition, or order adopted or issued by the Department pursuant thereto.

The seriousness of the violation in terms of triggering enforcement sanctions is defined by the area of wetlands destroyed. The maximum area, triggering the most severe penalties, is 200,000 square feet (less than 5 acres). (see page 475 of DEP rules)

This case involves 150 acres of wetlands destruction!

Do the math: $25,000 per day, for a period of almost 50 years!

Instead of enforcement, DEP finds that this massive destruction of wetlands has had “no environmental impact” – they do that by sleight of hand with respect to the environmental impact of the DEP’s “map amendments” instead of the actual destruction of the wetlands that resulted in them no longer meeting the legal definition of wetlands:

Because the areas to be remapped as uplands do not meet the definition of a coastal wetland under the Act, the map amendments will have no environmental impact.

This is remarkably cynical.

Under law and DEP regulations, any corporations that destroyed, hydrologically altered, or filled  150 acres of wetlands such that they no longer functioned like or met the definition of wetlands would face severe DEP enforcement sanctions.

DEP regulations include restoration requirements: (@ page 481)

  • Recovery of compensatory damages for any loss or destruction of natural resources, including, but not limited to, wildlife, fish, aquatic life, habitat, plants, or historic or archeological resources, and for any other actual damages caused by any violation for which a civil action has been commenced and brought under this subsection; and/or
  • Execution of an order requiring the violator to restore the site of the violation to the maximum extent practicable and feasible or, in the event that restoration of the site of the violation is not practicable or feasible, provide for an off-site restoration alternative as approved by the Department.

How much per acre are credits going for at the DEP Wetlands Mitigation Bank?:

A mitigation bank is a site in which wetlands, uplands, riparian zones, and/or other aquatic resources are restored, created, enhanced, or preserved by a mitigation bank operator in advance of any specific need for compensatory mitigation.

DEP’s failure to require mitigation or compensation for the loss of 150 acres of wetlands is another PSE&G multi-million dollar subsidy.

2) DEP Did Not Take Enforcement Action  Or Require Mitigation Or Compensation

Despite PSE&G’s open admission of massive destruction of wetlands in the petition they filed, DEP is not taking enforcement action or issuing enforcement fines and penalties.

DEP is not mandating restoration of destroyed and damaged wetlands.

DEP is not mandating compensation for lost use of publicly owned natural resources held in trust by DEP.

DEP is doing no of that. What DEP is doing is deregulating these wetlands by remapping them as no longer wetlands!:

The Department has determined that the existence of historic longstanding fill, sand, dredged material gravel, elevated topography, and berms preclude tidal inflows. Thus, the Department is proposing to amend Coastal Wetlands Maps 224-1758, 231-1752, and 231-1758.

3) DEP Did Not Consider Climate Change Driven Sea Level Rise, Storm Surge, Storm Intensity, or Flooding

A key criteria for triggering the presence of coastal wetlands is hydrology and the elevation of those wetlands.

Here’s how DEP considered the hydrology and elevation issues:

The Act’s definition of a coastal wetland specifically refers to areas whose surface is at or below an elevation of one foot above local extreme high water. The term “local extreme high water” is not defined by the Act. Thus, in applying the Act, the Department equates “local extreme high water” to “extreme high-water spring,” which is the highest excursion of the spring tides or “mean higher high water,” which is the average height of the highest tide. As a conservative measure, the Department utilized the higher of these two excursions in applying the Act.

To evaluate current site conditions, on December 28, 2020, Department staff conducted a site inspection. The Department scheduled the inspection date and time to coincide with a full moon high tide event to evaluate “local extreme high-water” conditions

Note that DEP ignores climate science – i.e. sea level rise, storm surge, increasingly intense storms, and increased Delaware River flooding – is determining “local extreme high water”.

A spring “full moon high tide” is NOT the equivalent of “local extreme high-water” conditions, which are influenced by climate driven sea level rise, storm surge, more intense storms and increased Delaware River flooding.

In a transparent and egregiously hypocritical move, DEP does recognize the impacts of climate change, but does so in the “Social Impact” section and to promote their deregulation of wetlands!

the area is the site of a planned wind power port and construction of the wind power port will be possible in these areas because the mapping will now be accurate. This will create construction and permanent operating jobs. In addition, the anticipated wind power port will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and increase use of sustainable wind energy, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While these impacts were not part of the Department’s analysis of the requested amendment of coastal wetland boundaries, the anticipated benefits of the wind power port will assist in the State’s efforts to address climate change and support the clean energy goals outlined in Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan, the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA), N.J.S.A. 26:2C-37 et seq., the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report (80×50 Report), prepared in accordance with the GWRA, and the interim emissions target set forth in Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 274 (2021) (EO 274). As indicated in EO 274, the environmental impacts caused by climate change include rising sea levels, increased flooding, more frequent and severe extreme weather events, and numerous other adverse environmental impacts. The Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contains the strongest call to action to enact sustainable solutions such as Offshore Wind to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

I really can’t see how DEP could be more corrupt or more transparent in their corruption.

Compounding DEP’s corruption, I’m giving big odds that NJ’s environmental groups and owned media like NJ Spotlight – who receive generous support and grant funding from PSE&G – will not make a sound.

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So Long, Ajo Arizona!

March 20th, 2022 No comments

“I get the urge for going”

8H1A1785 (1)

It’s about that time of year again – the days are getting warmer and northern mountains, forests, and rivers call.

There should be a “moving on” from a winter in the desert like Joni Mitchell’s “I get the urge for going”:

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And all trees are shivering in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go
I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown.

That’s such a beautiful song and it captures many of my melancholy and bittersweet moods and feelings, as I get the urge for and reflect upon going. (But I must admit that I prefer Tom Rush’s version, though)

Ajo is a cool little town – and there’s plenty of surrounding BLM desert lands to camp in.

Spectacular landscape – colors, light, vegetation. Lizards, small birds, wild burrows, javelina, bobcat, coyote, blazing sun, crystal clear blue skies, mountains, arroyo’s and crazy riot riparian vegetation.  …… Silence. …..  Solitude.

The singing coyotes and swooping ravens kept Bouy busy this year in chase. And they both kept me up many a night – a pack of coyote singing followed by dog howling and barking!.

So, so long Ajo – maybe we meet again next year.

We got the urge for going – where? …..

8H1A0118 (1)

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Murphy DEP Tries To Bury Petition To Strengthen Regulations To Prevent Catastrophic Wildfire Destruction

March 17th, 2022 No comments

In Unprecedented Move, DEP Attempts To Divert Focus & Undermine Petitioner

DEP Claims “Non-compliance” With Illegal DEP Rules, While Failing To Provide Proper Public Notice

Posting On The DEP Website Does Not Satisfy Publication In NJ Register

Source: NJ DEP (3/17/22)

Source: NJ DEP (3/17/22)

I find such lawless bureaucratic arrogance totally unacceptable and worthy of oversight and even censure.

[Update below!]

I recently filed a petition for rulemaking” with DEP to force them to strengthen current DEP land use regulations that allow construction of new development in high wildfire hazard areas, see:

DEP recently took a series of steps that exaggerated the risks and impacts of wildfires, including multiple press releases, dramatic media events, several social media posts (Twitter and FB), and even testimony to the Legislature by DEP Commissioner LaTourette.

The petition sought to hold them accountable to respond to the risks they claimed to exist. If these risks are real, DEP has a duty to regulate to reduce risks. If imaginary, DEP must fess up and admit the exaggeration. DEP seems very eager to use and exaggerate these alleged risks as justification for “actively managing” (i.e. burning and logging) forests, but very reluctant to rely on these risks to regulate development. DEP can’t have it both ways.

Today, DEP acknowledged receipt of this petition and filed what DEP called a “Public Notice” .

In the DEP “Public Notice”, in an unprecedented, revealing, and totally unprofessional move, before even complying with legal requirements to summarize the contents of the petition, DEP went out of their way to divert attention from the substance of the petition and attacked the petitioner and sought to undermine the petition and discredit the petitioner.

DEP claimed that the petition failed to “comply” with DEP regulations regarding the filing of petitions for rulemaking because it was not sent “electronically” to the specific email address in DEP regulations.

Note: DEP accepts petitions filed electronically by email. I provided email to not on DEP Commissioner LaTourette, but to the head of DEP’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, Gary Brower:

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To: “” <>

Date: 03/09/2022 6:04 PM

Subject: Joint Petition for rulemaking

Gary – my apologies, I meant to copy you on this petition for rulemaking – see below.

I can’t recall a precedent for DEP chastising a petitioner and claiming “non-compliance”. Not only was DEP’s Notice petty, it was unprofessional.

First of all, the DEP regulations in question are not authorized by the NJ Administrative Procedure Act and in fact violate the letter and intent of that law (see reply letter to DEP below which explains these DEP legal errors).

The so called DEP regulations are illegal and unenforceable. That’s why DEP was forced to accept the petition, rather than to reject it for failure to “comply” with the sham regulations they cited.

Second, again before responding to the substance of the petition, DEP then took exception to sending the petition to NJ Legislators. (see my letter below to Senators Smith and Greenstein explaining why this was so egregiously wrong and requesting legislative oversight).

Third, DEP objected to the the (curiously un-named) individuals the petition was sent to at the Pinelands Commission and the Highlands Council. (Importantly, DEP failed to note that I also sent the petition to FEMA and EPA, given significant federal oversight issues).

The unmistakable DEP objectives in doing that right up front were three-fold:

1) to discredit the petitioner (me) as some kind of incompetent advocate;

2) to divert attention from the substance of the petition; and

3) to undermine the credibility of the petition.

In a remarkable irony, after claiming I failed to comply with sham procedural requirements, the DEP then failed to comply with the real legal requirement that the DEP provide a “Public Notice” of receipt of the petition by sending it to the Office of Administrative Law for formal publication in the NJ Register.

Instead, it appears that DEP is trying to limit the “Public Notice” to publication on the DEP website.

The statute mandates that Public Notice shall be made in the NJ Register. DEP may not adopt regulations that ignore that mandate and substitute a notice on the DEP website.

Of course, I called that out – see letters to DEP and Senators Smith and Greenstein below.

I also have a call in to the OAL staffer who oversees State agency compliance with OAL administrative requirements to request his intervention. I left a lengthy and detailed message on his voicemail, so there can be no ambiguity.

I don’t expect the lame NJ press corps and environmental community to get this deep in the weeds, but am compelled to write about it here so it will get out in the legal and policy community.

[Update: As I knew, DEP is legally obligated to publish Notice in the NJ Register they just failed to do so in my case.

Here is the legal boilerplate that DEP uses to issue Notices of Receipt of rule petitions: (emphasis mine)



DEP did not include that legal boilerplate on my notice and instead simply stated they would publish it on the DEP website.

Here’s another example of the legal boilerplate:


I absolutely nailed them on this abuse. That’s why I took a screen shot of my “Public Notice” (see above).

DEP actually tried to fob off a fake public notice!!! They will have to fix it.  ~~~ end update]

[Update #2 – 3/17/22 – haahahahaaha! DEP was caught red handed! Good thing I took a screen shot! After I called them on it, wrote to legislators, and called OAL, DEP fixed their attempted scam!!! Take a look at what the “Public Notice” looks like now – I made it easy. They even revised the DEP website link:



Notice of Receipt of Petition for Rulemaking
Petition to Adopt Rules Limiting or Prohibiting Development in Certain Wildfire Hazard Areas; Mandating Retrofit of State-of-the-Art Fire Prevention Practices on Existing Development in Certain Wildfire Hazard Areas; and Requiring Monitoring and Reporting of Emissions of Air Pollutants from Wildfires and Prescribed Burns
N.J.A.C. 7:7, 7A, 13, 27, 38, and 50

Petitioner: Bill Wolfe

Response to DEP

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To: DEP RulePetitions [DEP],,, senbsmith <>, sengreenstein <>,

Date: 03/17/2022 12:01 PM

Subject: Re: Notice of Rec’t of Petition for Rulemaking

Dear DEP:

Thank you for acknowledging receipt of the subject petition. I have two issues of serious concern regarding the Department’s failure to comply with statutory requirements:

I) The Department Failed To Provide Notice To OAL Of Receipt Of Petition

The NJ Administrative Procedure Act mandates that the Department file a notice with the Office of Administrative Law for publication in the NJ Register. see: N.J.S.A. 52:14B-4(f)

Upon the receipt of the petition, the agency shall file a notice stating the name of the petitioner and the nature of the request with the Office of Administrative Law for publication in the New Jersey Register.”

However, the Department’s Notice of receipt fails to comply with this legislative mandate. The Department stated:

“This notice and the full text of the petition filed in this matter are available on the Department’s website at”

The Department’s Notice  failed to state that the Act requires that the Department provide Notice to the Office of Administrative Law and publication in the NJ Register.

Mere posting of the subject petition on the DEP website does not comply with the requirements of the Act.

I demand that the DEP comply with the Act and provide Notice to to OAL as required by law and that OAL publish the petition in the NJ Register, as required by law.

II) Alleged non-compliance with DEP’s procedural requirements

As you know, as a fundamental matter of law, the Department’s regulations regarding the procedures for petitions for rulemaking may not be – either procedurally or substantively – more narrow in scope, restrictive, or burdensome than the statutory authority pursuant to which to they are promulgated (i.e the NJ Administrative Procedures Act).

Similarly, any DEP regulatory requirements may not be arbitrary or capricious and must be reasonable and supported by facts in the record.

The Department claims a lack of “compliance” by the petitioner with DEP’s regulations:

“Petitioner did not comply with N.J.A.C. 7:1D-1.1, Procedure to petition for a rule, which the Department promulgated in accordance with the N.J.S.A. 52:14B-4(f) of the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The alleged basis for this claim of non-compliance is:

“The Department’s rules state that petitions for the promulgation, amendment, or repeal of a rule by the Department shall be sent electronically to the dedicated email address identified in the rule, or in hard copy to the Office of Legal Affairs at the provided address. N.J.A.C. 7:1D-4.1(c)”

This claim has no basis in law. This claim is ultra vires and in conflict with law. This claim is arbitrary and capricious.

The Department’s regulations regarding petitions for rulemaking are authorized pursuant to the NJ Administrative Procedure Act (Act).

The Act does not mandate that petitions for rulemaking be submitted electronically to a specific “dedicated email address” or via hard copy to a specific DEP office.

The Act not only does not provide these mandates, the Act does not authorize the Department to establish such arbitrary and unduly burdensome procedural requirements, that See N.J.S.A. 52:14B-4(f)

The Department’s rules are more burdensome and restrictive procedurally than the Act.The Department’s rules are not authorized by the Act. The Department’s rule violate the letter and intent of the Act, which is to provide a procedure for citizens to participate in the regulatory process.

The Department’s rules are arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable and lack a factual basis in the record, as demonstrated by the Department’s own formal receipt of the subject petition which DEP claims does not “comply” with such regulations.

I will soon submit a petition for rulemaking to demand that the Department repeal these arbitrary, capricious and ultra vires procedural requirements the Department’s response relies on.

We look forward to the Department’s compliance with the Act via filing a notice to OAL and to the timely and favorable consideration of the subject petition.


Letter on legislative oversight issues 

Dear Senator Smith – I recently filed a petition for rulemaking to DEP.

Because the legislature has broad Constitutional oversight powers of the Executive Branch as well as specific veto authority of State agency regulations, and because DEP Commissioner LaTourette’s legislative testimony was a basis for the petition, I copied yourself and Senator Greenstein as Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, of the Committee of jurisdiction, the Senate Environment Committee.

In the DEP’s legally mandated formal Public Notice of receipt of the subject petition, in a highly unusual and unprofessional move, the DEP took exception to providing a copy to legislators, calling that, among others, a “procedural flaw”. DEP wrote:

“Rather, Petitioner emailed the petition to various Department employees (including the Commissioner), individuals associated with the Pinelands Commission and the Highlands Council,as well as to a State Senator and other individuals outside of the three agencies to which he directs the petition. Despite these procedural flaws,…”

I find such lawless bureaucratic arrogance totally unacceptable and worthy of oversight and even censure.

For you information, below please find a copy of my reply to DEP’s Notice. In addition to the unprofessional arrogance of objecting to providing information for legislative oversight, ironically, in asserting claims of procedural non-compliance, DEP itself appears to be in non-compliance with the procedural requirements of the NJ Administrative Procedure Act.

I urge your oversight in this matter. The DEP’s behavior is unprofessional and unacceptable.

I am copying DEP Commissioner LaTourette to enable him to assert management oversight and corrective action of whomever is responsible at DEP for this behavior and non-compliance.


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Murphy DEP Urged To Expand Statewide Sampling for “Forever Chemicals” To Farmland And Agricultural Products

March 15th, 2022 No comments

DEP Permitted Land Application of Sewage Sludge & Wastewater “Beneficial Reuse” Sites Must Be Sampled

DEP Urged To Sample Soil, Groundwater, and Cows Milk & Dairy Products

PFAS Just One Example Of Hundreds Of Unregulated Chemicals


As of 2019, 51 percent of wastewater sludge nationwide was applied on agricultural lands, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. Source: US EPA

This situation reminds me of a controversy back in the late 1980′s, when DEP discovered dioxin and furans in Warren County cows milk:

However, the routes from dioxins released to the environment to dioxins found in pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and human breast milk are neither simple nor direct.” (NY Academy of Sciences)

More alarming bad news out of the State of Maine, as farmers there learn that their soil, groundwater, and even dairy cow milk is contaminated with “forever chemicals” PFAS, see:

The suspected source of the chemical contamination is land application of sludge from sewage treatment plants.

NJ DEP has long had a “biosolids” reuse program that encouraged the widespread land application in NJ of sludge residuals as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Here is the DEP Sludge Management Plan:

The 1978 amendments also included a provision (N.J.S.A. 13:1E-46) requiring that the Statewide Solid Waste Management Plan contain a sewage sludge management strategy, which shall provide for the maximum practical processing of all sewage sludge generated within the State, and for the processing or land disposal of any such sewage sludge generated.

Here is the most recent (2019) DEP “beneficial use” data:

Screen Shot 2022-03-15 at 12.01.41 PM

It is very likely that PFAS chemicals were present but not sampled for and therefore contaminated the “biosolid” sludges that historically were land applied in NJ, primarily on farmland.

Here is the current DEP (voluntary) sludge sampling plan Guidance that recognizes that problem (but defers to the State of MICHIGAN):

Sampling for emerging contaminants create their own set of unique challenges. For example, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous in our society. Therefore, there is a much greater chance of cross-contamination and extra precautions need to be taken when designing a sampling plan for PFAS. There are many available sampling guidance documents that have been developed to address sampling for PFAS in sludge. If a sampling plan needs to be addressed to specifically deal with PFAS, the Department would recommend consulting the Biosolids and Sludge PFAS Sampling Guidance that has been developed by the State of Michigan.

The NJ DEP also has long had a wastewater “beneficial reuse” program.

It is very likely that PFAS chemicals were present but not sampled for and therefore contaminated the wastewater that historically was land applied in NJ, again, primarily on farmland but even public places like parks.

Here is the DEP “Technical Manual for Reclaimed Water For Beneficial Reuse”.

I couldn’t find any PFAS sampling requirements, so it looks like there is not only an historic problem but a currently ongoing problem.

[Note: DEP has begun a narrow scope data collection program to examine PFAS sources in wastewater, but that effort is moving very slowly and it does not include historic and current land application of sludge, beneficial reuse of wastewater, farms, or agricultural products at contaminated farms, see:

DEP must now sample all previously DEP approved, permitted and known sludge land application and wastewater beneficial reuse sites for PFAS compounds.

That sampling needs to include soil, groundwater and cows milk. Here’s Maine’s experience and program:

What is the Maine DACF doing?

DACF has been investigating PFAS contamination on farms, with the focus initially on dairy farms. In 2016, milk at a dairy in Arundel, Maine was found to contain high levels of PFOS. The Maine CDC created an Action Threshold for PFOS in milk: 210 parts per trillion (ppt). Since then, DACF has conducted statewide retail milk samples three times. Where results appeared to indicate that source milk might contain high levels of PFOS, DACF worked with processors to successfully identify a contaminated farm in Fairfield, Maine. DEP water testing resulting from that discovery detected a second PFOS impacted dairy farm also in Fairfield. Learn more about DEP’s Fairfield investigation.

A lot more shit is about to hit the fan as farmers may lose PFAS contaminated water, farms, crops, animals, and/or cows milk.

This situation reminds me of a controversy back in the late 1980′s, when DEP discovered dioxin and furans in Warren County cows milk.

DEP covered that contamination up at the time, as it would have blocked the proposed Warren County garbage incinerator from being permitted and built.

Will DEP and the Department of Agriculture again suppress another toxic nightmare?

Source: NY Academy of Sciences

Source: NY Academy of Sciences

Source: NY Academy of Sciences (link at top)

Source: NY Academy of Sciences (link at top)

Fool me once….

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What You Don’t Know Can Kill You – Part 56

March 15th, 2022 No comments

DEP And NJ Spotlight Blasted (Again!) For Failure To Publicly Disclose Critical Information

Emotions ran high Sept. 21 as Hopewell area residents expressed concern about their health and property values at an information meeting held to discuss cleanup efforts on Somerset and Lafayette streets in the area surrounding the former Rockwell/Kooltronic plant at 57 Hamilton Ave. in Hopewell Borough (HVN; 9/21/06) (See Wolfenotes analysis, over a decade ago)

NJ Spotlight today published a story about “forever chemical” (PFAS) contamination in Hopewell schools and private wells. The story was written as if it were some kind of investigative journalism that discovered and publicly revealed new information.

I gave them the DEP enforcement data on Bear Tavern elementary and Timberlane Middle School contamination back in November 2021 and I published it, see:

I followed that up with a January 2022 post that blasted the failure to publish this data and the DEP to adequately inform the public, see:

Private Well Testing Act Report (Source: NJ DEP)

Private Well Testing Act Report – 2007 (Source: NJ DEP)

For many years, I’ve been writing about and harshly criticizing DEP’s failure to publicly release Private Well Testing Act data and annual Reports like they used to. DEP has not published Private Well Testing Act data in a public Report for over 15 years!: (this is a May 2012 post):

Had homeowners and parents had this information immediately, then they could have taken steps to protect themselves  (and I’m sure some folks would not have purchased homes!)

That DEP failure to publish annual reports with critical data is part of a much larger pattern of abuse by DEP, see:

The current Murphy administration is making longtime DEP problems worse, e.g. see why DEP doesn’t release this kind of data (i.e. because the politically powerful real estate and development community don’t want that data made public):

Perhaps that it because the current DEP Commissioner is a former corporate lawyer, another important issue that the media is not covering, see:

The folks at NJ Spotlight are beginning to provide cover not only for DEP, but for their own failed reporting.

I sent reporter Jon Hurdle and his editor John McAplin this friendly note:

Jon – I gave you the DEP Bear Tavern and Timberlane school data back in November, and then published it. My kids went to these schools and I built a house in Hopewell whose water is likely contaminated, see:

In January, I blasted Spotlight and DEP for failure to adequately inform the public, see:

That data should have been made available when DEP first learned of it (before July 2021). Did Hopewell school officials inform parents and the public when they installed treatment back in 2020?

DEP no longer issues an annual Private Well Testing Act Report so the public can be made aware of this data. Over 6 YEARS ago, I also criticized DEP for, see:

“In fact, the whole issue of private wells tends to be swept under the rug – DEP has not published Private Well Testing Act statewide data in a consolidated Report for over 6 years.”

And when are you going to inform readers and publish the fact that DEP Commissioner LaTourette represented a Dow Chemical subsidiary in a toxic groundwater pollution case against DEP and won, saving the polluter millions of dollars in Natural Resource Damage compensation for polluting public drinking water! Links:

Wake up!


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