Home > Uncategorized > A Shameful (And Continuing) Toxic Legacy: From Lodi And Paulsboro, NJ To Palestine, Ohio

A Shameful (And Continuing) Toxic Legacy: From Lodi And Paulsboro, NJ To Palestine, Ohio

NJ Has Not Learned Lessons

The Chemical Product Is Still The Problem

Passaic City Fire & Spill Liability Bills Killed By Corporate Power

1 (25)

(Caption: Train cars still not removed (Paulsboro, NJ 12/4/12)

In a December 30, 2022 post (before Palestine, Ohio), Meet NJ’s Toxic Top Twenty Corporate Polluters I wrote:

Now, the only time environmental groups and the media even mention these DEP chemical regulatory programs is when they opportunistically get involved when a toxic train derails and forces evacuation of a City (Paulsboro), a chemical plant explodes (Knapp Technologies, Lodi), or there is a massive fire, like the recent near catastrophe in Passaic City.

I intentionally stayed away from the Palestine Ohio toxic train catastrophe, despite having good information to offer based on my work on the Knapp Technology explosion and the Paulsboro train derailment.

1 (29)

I wanted to avoid the opportunism. I don’t have the energy or focus to drill into the details. Given the high profile, I assumed that many more qualified people would handle the situation and get their asses on scene to help.

And before I even came to NJ to work at DEP, in college I had an incredible educational experience investigating and writing about the 1981 Binghamton, NY State Office Building PCB fire.

The exact same mistakes are being made. There has been no learning over a 40 year period.

  • Public deceptions by corporate and government officials are exactly the same.
  • Misleading news coverage repeats the same spin.
  • Scientists and regulators are in the same trap.
  • Corporate actors pull strings and dodge accountability.
  • Little discussion of needed reforms.
  • The community is gaslighted, neglected and abused.
  • NTSB Accident Report recommendations are ignored.

Even the political stunts are the same – in the wake of the Binghamton PCB fire, NY Gov. Hugh Carey came to Binghamton and pledged to drink a glass of PCB’s! He wound up eating those words! The NY Times reported:

Governor Carey volunteered today to drink a glass of PCB’s from a contaminated state office building in Binghamton to demonstrate that the building was safe.

1 (26)

I’m prompted to break silence and write today by a story on NPR this morning about so called risks and safety of the air in Palestine (and a prior story in The Lever, where an opportunistic NJ environmental group tried to spin the Palestine disaster as a LNG Bomb Train story).

It is simply stunning that weeks after the toxic event involving a vinyl chloride fire, the EPA just decided to sample for dioxin.

Maybe if they wait a few more weeks, the wind and spring rains will have blown and washed it all away.

Perhaps even worse, a university professor (a former EPA employee) was on NPR to support the EPA and to allay public fears. His statements were based only on ambient air sampling for 4 chemicals, with no sampling conducted on soot, indoor dust, or soils that people are exposed to.


So, we’ll not even attempt to invest the time necessary to find out what the hell is going on in Palestine.

Instead, we’ll repeat some NJ relevant questions that are again raised:

  • What ever happened to that Senate bill (see S2739) that was supposed to close the major loopholes exposed by the Passaic City chemical fire?

What ever happened to the bill to eliminate the $50 million cap on NJ Spill Act toxic liability?

What ever happened to the Pollution Prevention Act and its “toxics use reduction” policy? Why has DEP abdicated statutory authority to mandate pollution prevention plan goals and toxics use reduction requirements in DEP permits? Have NJ environmentalists and press corps ever even heard of that Act? Aren’t Pollution Prevention and toxics use reduction an “inherently safer technology” (IST)? Why has NJ’s “Bhopal” chemical catastrophic risk management law and IST been invisibilized and forced down the Memory Hole?

[End Note: For those interested in the lessons from the Paulsboro toxic train derailment (vinyl chloride), and the NTSB Accident Report, see these posts:

For those interested in broader issues of chemical safety regulation, see these posts:

1 (27)

1 (28)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.