Commissioner Calls Paterson Enforcement and Environmental
Compliance Effort a Success
(03/184) PATERSON - With
wide-spread cooperation from area businesses, the local
chamber of commerce and citizen groups, New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today joined city of Paterson Mayor Jose Torres
to announce the success of the Paterson enforcement effort
that included inspections at more than 1,000 facilities,
offered nearly 100 voluntary compliance assistance visits
and uncovered 159 major environmental violations.
"Once again, our concentrated enforcement
and compliance effort in one of New Jersey's largest cities
has proven beneficial to area residents by curtailing potentially
dangerous environmental violations occurring near their
homes," said Commissioner Campbell. "Many of Paterson's
businesses are now more environmentally informed, with some
already addressing violations found. Simply put: the city
is a safer, healthier place to live."
"I am very gratified by the partnership
we established with the DEP and the Chamber in this effort.
Together, we are committed to protecting Paterson's residents
from environmental crimes impacting their quality of life.
The recent inspections in our city will help ensure this
protection," said city of Paterson Mayor Torres.
"Many area businesses welcomed the
department's environmental compliance assistance because
they want to do the right thing and also are concerned about
the health and safety of local residents," said Paterson
Chamber of Commerce President Jamie Dykes.
Identifying a high number of regulated
businesses located in close proximity to residential neighborhoods
in the city of Paterson, Passaic County, the DEP launched
a two-phase compliance and enforcement effort in the city
in September 2003. The initial stage of the compliance and
enforcement effort focused on community outreach and on
providing assistance to the city's known and potentially
regulated individuals, businesses and government operations.
Working with the New Jersey's Department
of Commerce, the Paterson Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, a total
of 98 compliance assistance visits were conducted and more
than 425 facilities received assistance materials or participated
in informational sessions. A total of six compliance assistance
programs were held: one Paterson Chamber of Commerce session,
two dry cleaner sessions, one auto body session, one general
compliance assistance session, and one minority-business
"This is an excellent example of how
we can improve compliance through both compliance assistance
and enforcement," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional
Administrator. "The Paterson community, with its many
industrial facilities, will benefit tremendously from this
concentrated effort to make sure these facilities are doing
what they should to protect people's health and the environment."
The second phase of the enforcement effort,
which was conducted with assistance from the Passaic County
Health Department, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission
and the EPA, involved a large-scale inspection of more than
1,000 sites throughout the city. Of the 1,028 sites visited,
a total of 1,357 inspections were conducted, resulting in
the citation of 159 major violations and 252 minor violations.
In addition, DEP issued more than 230 compliance certificates
to cooperative businesses where no violations occurred.
In total, the DEP and its partners mobilized more than 145
inspectors to ensure city-wide compliance with laws addressing
water quality, solid and hazardous waste, air pollution
and illegal land use activities.
The violations ranged from unregistered
underground storage tanks and failure to install air monitoring
and emissions equipment, to illegal treatment and storage
of hazardous wastes and unpermitted stormwater discharge
Major hazardous waste violations were uncovered
as a result of the Paterson effort.
On Monday, December 8, DEP hazardous waste
and air pollution inspectors found more than 140 55-gallon
drums of various chemicals, including used oils, mineral
spirits, dyes, caustics, and unknown substances from previous
dye operations at the former Zenith Dye and Finishing Corporation
located at 46 East 24th Street and 2nd Avenue. The building
posed a potentially dangerous condition to the neighboring
industries and homes because of inadequate sprinkler systems,
outdated fire extinguishers, leaking drums of oils and other
chemicals, as well as the unpermitted use of the building
by a kindling cutting and packing operation.
DEP inspectors notified the Paterson City
Fire Prevention Bureau and Hazmat Teams, and immediately
issued a Notice of Violation to the "alleged"
responsible party, the Greater Community Bank of Totowa,
and its associate bank, the Bergen Commercial Bank. The
NOV was for failing to determine if solid waste in the 55-gallon
drums, powders and other opened containers was hazardous.
It ordered the responsible party to remove all spill materials
from the leaking drums inside and outside the building and
to secure the building to ensure that the materials do not
pose a hazard to human health or the environment. Local,
county, and state officials were previously unaware of the
condition of the building before the Paterson effort. Despite
the bank's claim that it is not responsible for the drums,
the company has agreed to take appropriate corrective actions.
On Thursday, December 11, DEP inspector's
from the Water Enforcement Team and hazardous waste accompanied
by two New Jersey State Park Rangers inspected the furniture
operator Empire Industries, Inc., formerly known as Empire
Marble Corporation, located at 195 River Street in Paterson.
Approximately 100-to-200 55-gallon drums, and a few 250-gallon
totes, were found onsite. The drums were found in various
conditions, were not protected from the elements and many
were found in direct contact with the ground. Prior to March
of 2000, Empire manufactured synthetic marble, under the
company name of Empire Marble Company. Their synthetic marble
products were manufactured from such raw materials as limestone,
aluminum hydrate (a filler), and various polyester &
polyurethane resins, and therefore posed a potential hazardous
waste risk. The DEP issued a NOV requiring the site owner
to determine if the "solid waste" on the property
was hazardous and a second NOV for failure to maintain or
operate the facility to minimize possibilities of fire,
explosion, or releases of hazardous waste or hazardous waste
constituents. DEP has confirmed that Empire has contacted
a disposal service to properly remove all of the material
being stored in their rear yard.
In addition to hazardous waste violations,
several area bodegas were issued stop-sale orders for illegal,
imported pesticides, which are highly toxic and pose serious
health threats to children if used in the home. These pesticides
are commonly known as Tres Pasitos and Chinese Chalk.
In a separate incident, an ongoing investigation
is being conducted at a dye and chemical company where a
truck leaving the facility was believed to be leaking hydrochloric
acid vapor. The facility also is under investigation for
possible groundwater violations and illegal discharges to
Passaic Valley sewerage.
Approximately 180 referrals have been made
by DEP inspectors as a result of the enforcement effort,
and follow-up investigations will be conducted at sites
where additional violations may exist.
As part of ongoing outreach efforts in
Paterson, DEP is planning a community availability session
in the New Year working with the city and other community
organizations. During the community availability session,
community members and businesses will be able to get more
information on DEP's environmental protection regulations
and small business assistance programs. Community members
interested in participating in DEP outreach activities can
contact Jeremee Johnson at 609-777-0319.