March 19, 2014
The Mayor of the Borough of Carteret, NJ, Daniel Reiman, recently posted an update to his Facebook page, as well as a similar update to the official Borough website, about the Rahway Arch Proposal by Soil Safe, Inc. The update included several inaccuracies that we would like to address.
First, we would like to clear up some misconceptions about our organization. NY/NJ Baykeeper is a registered, 501(c)3 charitable organization that has been working in this watershed since 1989. Our IRS form 990 financial statements are a matter of public record and we are completely transparent about our funding sources and always have been. We advocate on behalf of the Raritan Bay, its rivers, streams and tributaries, including the Rahway River. We have been very active in trying to protect this site and the surrounding wetlands from bad proposals, like this one. Baykeeper has long advocated that the polluter, Cytec, should pay for cleanups.
Next, we would like to clear up misconceptions about the project:
- The site actually has a “No Further Action” letter from the NJDEP that was issued to Cytec, meaning that NJDEP thought it was clean enough to warrant no further cleanup by Cytec.
- The area is 90 acres made up of sludge ponds held back by earthen berms, surrounded by valuable wetlands. The existing sludge on the site cannot support weight and the earthen berms, or walls, are not reinforced in any way. Soil Safe states that it will place at least 2 ½ million tons of contaminated soils on top to “cap” the site, and somehow, not collapse the entire site into the Rahway River, Arthur Kill and surrounding wetlands. An expert who has been engineering dams for 42 years reviewed Soil Safe’s technical data and concluded that the site will collapse into the river.
- Soil Safe has not conducted any actual monitoring or sampling of the Rahway River to prove that "25 million gallons of cyanide laced leachate" run uninhibited into the Rahway River.
- Mayor Reiman suggests that Soil Safe is bringing in soil that has a similar makeup to that of the average backyard. Is your backyard soil contaminated by petroleum? Because petroleum-contaminated soil is what Soil Safe plans to truck in through your neighborhoods to the site. Soil Safe was just cited by NJDEP for numerous violations of at their existing facility in Logan Township, NJ, including taking in oils and other contaminates that exceed NJDEP standards.
- This petroleum contaminated soil will add to the toxicity of the site. As seen in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, this site was severely flooded and that flooding could easily reoccur after another heavy rainfall or storm surge, especially since the site falls within a designated floodplain. A flood could spread the contaminated soil throughout the area, endangering the public and plant and wildlife species and their habitats. Why risk MORE contaminated sludge in your own watershed? Mayor Reiman should demand better environmental quality for his constituents.
- Mayor Reiman also stated that, upon completion, the remaining acreage will be returned to economic viability. This would leave approximately 20 acres of land for redevelopment – a proposal that Baykeeper has supported.
All of this information was obtained through the Open Public Meetings Act (OPRA) and is well documented. The documents are available here. Additionally, Baykeeper has previously assisted the Borough of Carteret in pursuing environmental polluters by hosting Borough representatives on our Baykeeper patrol boat to inspect and document the waterfront – a free service we were happy to provide.
The mayor was right about one thing- we are “hell-bent” on blocking this proposal, but not for selfish reasons. We are fighting this proposal because we care about the best interests of the Rahway River and the communities surrounding it. We not are not deterred by the slanderous attacks and inaccurate insults being thrown at us and will continue to make noise and draw attention to the hazards posed by this proposal and advocating for what is best for our watershed.