Sierra Club Warns That Environmental Disaster Could Follow Hurricane
Millions of tons of toxic material stored in low-lying areas, group says.
Some of the state's most hazardous facilities and toxic sites are located in flood-prone or low-lying areas, putting them at considerable risk to Hurricane Irene's wrath, the NJ Sierra Club said Friday.
"We are concerned that many important parts of our infrastructure as well as many hazardous sites are in harm’s way," Sierra Club head Jeff Tittel said. "This hurricane could do a tremendous amount of damage to critical infrastructure and hazardous sites and facilities. This could be a natural disaster with the potential to be an environmental disaster as well."
The group said that millions of tons of toxic material and waste are in the path of the hurricane. Chemical plants such as DuPont sit on the coast, as do many Superfund sites, they said.
Additionally, there are toxic lagoons at former industrial sites, such as American Cyanamid on the Raritan River, the group said.
Tittel also said that sites which have been capped could break down because of storm surges and flooding, and release toxic chemicals. He cited housing developments in Jersey City, Weehawken and Perth Amboy that are built on capped sites in a flood plain.
"In Weehawken there is a housing development on a capped chromium site sitting on filled-in former river shallows that is still located in the flood plain," Tittel wrote in release. "In Edgewater, there is a large toxic plume sitting next to the Hudson River.
"There are many companies throughout New Jersey that work with hazardous chemicals near flood plains," he continued. "There are barrels of toxic materials and landfills that could be washed out by flooding. We could end up with a witch’s brew of chemicals in our waterways as a result of this storm."
Tittel said he also worries about raw sewage and oil entering waterway, and is concerned about "multiple events" hitting Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.