Star Ledger: Green group spotlights toxic sites in Newark

Star Ledger: Green group spotlights toxic sites in Newark

Later, the tour visited Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood to get a crash course on the area’s biggest environmental threats, including a trash incinerator which is the largest in the state, said Ana Baptista, a member of the Ironbound Community Corp.

The Ironbound is also home to the Diamond Alkali Superfund site, where a pesticide factory for decades polluted the soil and Passaic River with high levels of dioxin, a toxin that can cause disfiguring skin problems and cancer.

The Ironbound’s only playing field for children was also recently shut down when the Astroturf being used was found to be contaminated with lead, Baptista said.

Within the four square miles that comprise the Ironbound, there are at least 100 brownfields — locations where contamination is either suspected or known.

“We have a lot of those in the community that were turned into housing,” Baptista said. “And that’s another challenge we face, housing built on former industrial sites, where we’re not sure if they’re contaminated.”

Once we solve Newark’s crime problem — and I’m cautiously optimistic that Newark will be a statistically and significantly safer city in the 1-2 year time frame — the problems remaining to Newark will be developing its fledgling economy and dealing with matters of health.

And, on the latter issue, the environment is huge. Newark endured massive environmental damage from its years as an industrial center on the East coast. And, as is mentioned in the article, a number of sites continue to be active around the city.

This is more than a little scary for Newark residents, especially those of us that have kids — it just doesn’t happen to get as much airplay as our more urgent needs. We happen to live right next to active industry, and the idea that it could somehow have an affect on our health or the health of our child keeps me up at night.

Newark needs a better framework of zoning laws, city planning, and aggressive compliance tactics to move active industry out of residential areas. We also need to send a stable of lawyers after property owners who are sitting on these sites to get them cleaned up.

After a few headlines about industry still running rampant over the city’s environmental laws, residents need assurances from City Hall that this is on their scope and something is being done about making Newark a sustainable home in the long term.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

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