Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Razing of Chromium Plant Brings New Set of Worries

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Razing of Chromium Plant Brings New Set of Worries

Article excerpt

GARFIELD -- Federal and local officials tried to allay fears Monday night from parents of students at an elementary school about the planned demolition of the nearby E.C. Electroplating plant, the source of chromium contamination in the neighborhood.

City Council members, school trustees and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were peppered with questions over everything from potential air pollution from the demolition to whether health tests will be done for children who have attended Roosevelt School 7, a half-block from the plant.

About 3,700 people live in the neighborhood where 3 tons of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium spilled from a tank at the E.C. Electroplating plant on Clark Street in 1983.

The EPA considers the demolition a significant step in a long- awaited cleanup of both the property and the neighborhood. Contaminated water has been coursing beneath 600 homes and businesses for almost three decades. Residents are concerned for their health and fear their property values have plummeted.

During a 90-minute meeting at Garfield Middle School, EPA officials insisted that there would be little to no air pollution because chromium has not been detected in the buildings that make up the plant.

That was of little consolation to Giselle Prado, who was concerned about students who have attended Roosevelt School 7, serving students in Grades K-5, during the three decades that chromium has contaminated the neighborhood.

"How many students who have gone to Roosevelt developed cancer over all these years?" asked Prado, who has a fifth-grader in the school and an older daughter who graduated.

Others in the audience of around 75 were concerned about the disruption and potential health threat that the demolition may cause.

"Why didn't you do this in the summer when kids weren't in school?" asked Cathy Lum, the mother of a third-grader.

EPA officials said they were busy preparing the building and removing hundreds of drums of hazardous waste from the plant over the summer. They also said they wanted to start the work as soon as possible to ensure that the $4 million earmarked for the project remains available. …

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