For years, Garfield, New Jersey has been turning toxic because of a leak at an old plant. But residents fear the clean up, which is about to begin, will put them at risk. Roseanne Colletti reports.
A long awaited demolition in New Jersey is kicking up concerns about toxic dust among those who live or send their kids to schools nearby.
“It's not going to be healthy for the kids,” said Carla Lunez, a parent of a child who attends a school near the site. “Why didn’t they do it in the summer when the kids are not in school?"
The demolition by the Environmental Protection Agency comes 29 years after a toxic spill at the now defunct E.C.Electroplating plant in Garfield. Neil Norrell, the agency's on-site coordinator said the structure posed no air-borne threat.
“The contamination is below ground level and that's why the building needs to come down because I need to be able to get at that,” Norrell said.
In 1983, three tons of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen used in electroplating, leaked from a tank at the now defunct business. Within two years, the clean-up was stopped with only a third of the toxic material removed.
The chromium leached into the ground water and 15 homes were eventually found to be contaminated. To complete the clean up, the agency needs to dig up the dirt beneath the plant's foundation.
Garfield City Manager Thomas Duch said he hoped to put the clean site to public use.
“Some type of small pocket park facility, with a little bit of parking to alleviate parking concerns in this neighborhood,” Duch said. “That would be a great thing.”
In the meantime, air monitors have been placed outside Roosevelt Elementary School, the Bergen Charter School and other sites close by to sound an alert if dust particles rise above a certain level.