Edison Wetlands Association Protests Raritan River Pollutors

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From the Star-Ledger this week:

"Dressed in a waterproof jumpsuit, protective boots and gloves, the head of the Edison Wetlands Association lead a rally outside Basell USA Inc. in EdisonĀ (Wednesday) demanding action to finally stop the toxic waste that environmentalists said has been seeping from the plant into the Raritan River for decades."

The area is used for fishing, boating and other maritime activities, including swimming, and the NY and NJ Baykeepers insist that the chemicals found by the EPA in this water are highly carcinogenic and endangering the human and animal population in the area.

(continuing) "More than 12 local environmentalists, including members of the Baykeepers of NY and NJ, demonstrated outside the chemical plant at the foot of Meadow Road -- a few hundred yards from the Edison boat basin, where people fish, boat and even swim.

 

The demonstrators accused Basell executives of dragging their feet on a thorough cleanup. In January, the EWA filed a federal lawsuit against Basell and the former plant owner, Akzo Nobel Chemical Inc., to force action.

 

"They've done next to nothing," said Bob Spiegel, the EWA executive director, who promised the rallies would continue every two weeks until the toxins are cleared.

 

A spokesman for Akzo refuted the claims, however, and maintained the firm and its successor on the site, Basell, have been cooperative.

 

"We've done a lot of work on mediation in conjunction with our environmental consultant and the DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection)," said Ed Stec, a spokesman for Akzo. The firm operated a chemical plant on the site from 1987 until 2006 when it was sold to Basell. Stec said Akzo is committed to assisting in the remediation. Stec said the contamination is not seeping from the Basell plant.

 

"Our findings show it's back flow from the tidal action," he said. Monitoring wells were dug along the shoreline and any runoff from the plant was redirected to treatment plants, Stec said.

 

But consultants hired by EWA said the toxins are seeping from the plant. Chapin Engineering of Basking Ridge submitted a report to the EWA concluding that that the seepage contains the carcinogenic, benzene, as well as lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and cooper.

Chapin Engineering and consultants hired by Basell and Akzo are expected to submit their findings to U.S. District Court Judge Faith Hochberg tomorrow. The next hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for Dec. 17.

 

Spiegel said the public is tired of waiting for a court ruling.

 

"If you're fishing there and want to walk off the banks, you have to wear this," he said pointing to the protective gear he wore today. "That's not acceptable."

 

Greg Remaud, a spokesman for the Baykeepers, said "along the lower Raritan there is a whole slew of recalcitrant polluters who are dragging their feet and not taking their legal responsibility to clean the site."

 

He said today's demonstration was important because "we want to send a message.

"The last line of defense is the public and the citizens crying out," Remaud said."

 

 

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