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October 5, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP Announces Environmental Health Partnership With Mercer County

(04/114) Trenton -- Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) delegated Mercer County the authority to establish environmental health programs under the County Environmental Health Act (CEHA). Mercer County now becomes the 21st county to participate in the CEHA program.

"For too long, Mercer County lacked a county health agency to help to enforce New Jersey's environmental laws," said Commissioner Campbell. "I welcome Mercer County to the CEHA program and applaud County Executive Brian Hughes for strengthening public health protection in Mercer by becoming a full CEHA partner."

As a CEHA partner, Mercer County will supplement the environmental services provided by DEP in a variety of ways. DEP will certify Mercer County's Office of Environmental Health to enforce air pollution and solid waste regulations by inspecting facilities and investigating complaints. Mercer County will implement a countywide hazardous materials emergency response program that will use existing teams in Trenton, Hamilton and West Windsor. DEP will also delegate to Mercer County its authority to undertake enforcement action to compel violators to comply with state environmental and public health laws. DEP provided $123,830 in CEHA grants to support Mercer County's environmental health programs.

"This administration has made it a top priority to work in partnership with the state and municipalities to find the best solutions for protecting the health of our citizens and our precious environment," said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. "Adding this authority will bring us in line with the rest of the state and advance our ability to confront regional health issues effectively."

Governor Brendan Byrne enacted the County Environmental Health Act in 1978. Under CEHA, DEP certifies county health agencies to conduct environmental health programs that address air pollution, hazardous materials emergency response, noise, solid waste and water pollution. In cooperation with DEP, county health agencies also routinely monitor coastal and fresh water bathing beaches, investigate environmental concerns, and use Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning System technologies for environmental planning and mapping.

In 2003, counties participating in CEHA conducted over 8500 routine inspections, investigated over 9200 complaints and responded to 2,700 hazardous materials incidents.



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