ASSEMBLY AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
"Testimony on the remediation alternatives for the GEMS Landfill"
Gloucester Township Municipal Building Gloucester Township, New Jersey
June 2, 2003
MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE PRESENT:
Assemblyman Robert J. Smith II, Chairman
Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald
|Jeffrey T. Climpson||Maggie Manza||Jerry Traino|
|Office of Legislative Services||Assembly Majority||Assembly Republican|
|Committee Aide||Committee Aide||Committee Aide|
Meeting Recorded and
The Office of Legislative Services, Public Information Office,
Hearing Unit, State House Annex, PO 068, Trenton, New Jersey
ASSEMBLYMAN ROBERT J. SMITH II (Chairman): I think
weíre going to get started here. I apologize for the late start.
Thereís no amplification here, so Iím going to try to speak as loud
as I can. And if anybody canít hear me, just raise your hands.
I appreciate everybody coming out tonight for this very, very
important public forum. We have a couple members of the Assembly that are
still in transit. Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblyman Douglas
Fisher are in transit. They should be here very shortly. But just -- because
everybody was here at 7:00, I want to make sure that we get started as close as
possible to the time that it was scheduled.
So what Iíd like to do is to have Jeff, from the Office of Legislative
Services, just give a very brief overview of the bill. And I find that the best
dialogue occurs during discussion, when weíre actually talking about the bill --
questions and answers. And after heís finished, maybe I can try to clear up
some things, and we can begin by calling up people to testify on the bill.
MR. CLIMPSON (Committee Aide): This bill, Assembly Bill
3174, was amended in Committee on March 6. And with those amendments,
the bill now does the following. It would prohibit the discharge of untreated or
pre-treated wastewater from Superfund sites in the publicly owned treatment
works. It would also prohibit any publicly owned treatment works from
accepting any untreated or pre-treated wastewater discharged from a Superfund
When the Committee amended the bill, it clarified that it applied
only to Superfund sites -- to Superfund sites that are former landfills, to insert
a number of remediation requirements to be imposed on former landfills that are
Superfund sites, which have radionuclide pollutants associated with them, and
to require the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Just by way of background, I am
Assemblyman Robert Smith. I chair the Natural Resources, Agricultural
Committee. I thought it was very important that we have a public forum in
Gloucester Township, the township that is directly involved with this legislation,
directly involved with any potential negative effects of the GEMS remediation
We have Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, who is the co-sponsor of
the bill-- And as I said earlier, we have Assemblyman Fisher on his way.
So what Iíd like to do at this point is to call up Senator George
Geist, who wishes to testify. Is he here?
S E N A T O R G E O R G E F. G E I S T: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Yes.
SENATOR GEIST: Good evening, Chairman Smith, Chairman
Chairmen, I thank you for enabling this forum in our Gloucester
Township. It is a pleasure to appear at a Committee hearing in my new
capacity as Senator. And tonight, I believe, we have a together endeavor, where
in the unity of this community, we are, truly, in a together endeavor to protect
our environment and protect our residents.
I enjoyed the privilege of serving on your Committee. And earlier
this year, we heard many of the residents come to Trenton and testify. Their
testimony compelled action when our Committee released the legislation. I
thank you for enabling my involvement with some friendly amendments to the
Today, we can send a message. Respectfully, weíre here tonight as
a result of a court ruling. Iíll read verbatim an excerpt from theCourier. "The
Trust filed a motion in April asking Simandle to force the CCMUA to accept the
water, despite public fears about exposure to radionuclides flowing through
county sewer mains." I read that verbatim quote from our newspaper, because
weíre here as a result of a court ruling, following a filing of a motion by "the
Mr. Chairman, youíve heard me say before, youíll hear me say now,
respectfully, I donít trust the Trust. (applause)
The action of the motion by the Trust did not fulfill the public
trust. Our legislation -- my resolution, your legislation, our efforts together --
have a consistency in emphasizing that there should be financial accountability
by the Trust.
TodayísCourier Post editorial raised questions. I emphasize, where
did all the money go? Why do we have this predicament? Why could not the
Trust finance for on-site solution? Why did the Trust file a motion to compel
the problem? I think everyone in this room has a right to know, where did all
the money go? Where did all the money go? Thatís my emphasis tonight.
Iím here to thank you for allowing our constituents the opportunity
to be heard. And in respect for the residents, my brevity is my word tonight.
Thank you, Chairmen. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Senator Geist, I truly appreciate your
comments, and theyíre well-taken.
I just want to emphasize with the legislation that was introduced --
it was introduced a long time ago -- it was released from our Committee,
probably, five or six weeks ago. And the hearing tonight was planned far in
advance of the court decision. I had no idea when that decision was coming
down. It was always intended that we would discuss the issue of this legislation
in Gloucester Township with the residents, those residents that are most affected
by the legislation. So I just wanted to clarify that.
SENATOR GEIST: To you and Chairman Greenwald, we are now
co-prime sponsors of Assembly bills. And I truly look forward to voting on
those bills in the Senate. And I hope that this dynamic duo can inspire Speaker
Sires to list our bills so that we can have action in the Assembly. And I look
forward to supporting those bills when they come over to the Senate.
I thank Chairman Greenwald for coming to Gloucester Township
tonight to help us in this effort.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Happy to be here.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
SENATOR GEIST: Thank you, Chairmen.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay, we have Jeff Tittel, from the
New Jersey Sierra Club, in favor of the bill that is -- wishes to testify.
J E F F T I T T E L: Thank you.
Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club.
Iím here today on behalf of not only the 23,000 members of the
Sierra Club of New Jersey, but our whole national organization.
The problem of Superfund sites throughout the country has really
become part of Americaís ticking time bomb. And how we deal with these sites,
and how we clean them up, is critically important. And I really believe that this
legislative body can send a message, not only in Gloucester Township, but
across the country -- in, basically, saying when we clean up sites, the people
come first, not the polluters, not some trust, but the people who are most
And I really want to thank everybody for being here and having the
hearing. And I want to thank Assemblyman Greenwald for being here, and
Assemblyman Smith for holding the hearing, and, of course, now Senator Geist,
for being one of the early movers of the bill -- and supporters.
But when it comes right down to it, the EPA has failed us. Iíve
called themevery polluterís advocate. Now we have a judge thatís taken the side
of the polluters over the people. And I think that the only remedy that we have
is, really, for the Legislature to get involved and to take an active role. Thatís
what really counts, at this time, because we need to send a clear message and
change the law so that we donít dump Chernobyl water into our sewer systems
or into our streams. And itís not just here. Thereís other sites in New Jersey
where we have volatile organic chemicals and other contaminated waste going
past peopleís homes; being vented into their basements; when it rains, coming
out onto the streets; getting into sewer sludge and being thrown on farmland,
and getting into our food chain that way. So itís really critical, I think, that we
say no and that we move forward.
And since this was also a hearing to discuss some other remedies,
one of the things I was just thinking of throwing out for discussion, and maybe
further to look into, is not only to look into the Trust itself and see where the
money has gone, but, maybe, legislation to either do a Teddy Roosevelt and
bust the trust, as he did -- as he was noted for many years ago -- and to, really,
see what theyíre about, but also what else we can do. Because, legislatively, if
we either eliminate the Trust or open it up and have the responsible agencies
take over for cleaning up -- like our own DEP -- maybe we would do a better
job, because I really think that the more accountable we can make those people
responsible for the cleanup, the better.
So maybe thatís something to look into. But, again, itís just an
idea -- and, I think, to try to throw things open and, maybe, go after some of the
responsible parties to help pay for better treatment.
Itís really ironic that the Trust has enough money to go to court
and, probably, battle this up to the Supreme Court, but they donít have enough
money to do a proper cleanup. And I think itís very important for the
Legislature to step forward and to, basically, say, "No. Weíre going to stop this
from going forward, and weíre going to make sure that itís cleaned up, and itís
cleaned up right, not only in Gloucester Township, but in the other 118
Superfund sites we have in the State of New Jersey."
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Jeff, I think you have some very, very
good ideas, some very good points. Itís probably the subject thatís beyond our
jurisdiction as the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but
weíll certainly take that back, number one.
Number two, the legislation was introduced five, six, eight weeks
ago in response to conversations with people like you and the other
environmental groups in Gloucester Township. And weíre trying to do our best,
as an Assembly panel component of the general Assembly, to address this very
important issue. But, certainly, we will take those issues back and look into it.
You raised very important concerns.
MR. TITTEL: Well, one of the things I do want to commend
yourself for, and the other members of your Committee is-- I just wanted to --
being involved in the Legislature and watching, sometimes, bill languish for
years, if not decades, I have-- There are some bills that weíve been involved
with, that we still support, that was a-- It was originally a Maureen Ogden bill
and then a-- Itís had, maybe, five sponsors. Itís been in the Legislature for 12
And one of the things that Iíd like to say is that this was one of the
quickest Iíve ever seen a bill get introduced and move out of Committee. And
Iíd like to thank the Committee for doing that, because this is an important
issue, and the timeliness is important, as we all know.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Well, if youíre able to stick around for
another 20 minutes or so, there may be better news when it comes to the
progress of the bill.
MR. TITTEL: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: You lost a lot of weight.
MR. TITTEL: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: You look great.
MR. TITTEL: Itís the budget diet. I just cut everything 20 percent.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: We donít have any money, you
donít have any weight. (laughter)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Linda Selby, South Jersey
Environmental Justice Alliance.
L I N D A S E L B Y: Hello. My name is Linda Selby. I represent the South
Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. Iím also a Camden resident and a
student at Rutgers University.
This whole GEMS Landfill really resonates with me. Besides being
a Camden resident and student, I live in an area that has a lot of environmental
justice issues. And it just seems like Camden always ends up at the end of the
pipe. And here, once again, radioactive water might end up flowing through not
only Runnemede and all these other places, but will end up in Camden.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Can you speak
a little louder, please?
MS. SELBY: Yes.
Not only will radioactive water flow through a lot of townships, but
will end up, once again, in Camden.
Youíll have to excuse me, Iím a little nervous. Iíve never been to
a hearing, never testified before.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: We canít hear
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thereís no amplification on the mikes.
Itís just for recording purposes. So maybe Linda will try to speak up -- and do
your best to project your voice so everybody can hear you.
MS. SELBY: All right. That, generally, is never a problem for me.
Also, as a student, I just recently did a paper on the whole GEMS
Landfill thing. I did a lot of research on it. We all know what kind of problems
that the radionuclide can do to peopleís health. And I just think that there are,
like, all these -- Iím sorry--
All of these people who contributed to this problem have the
responsibility to clean this up. It shouldnít be the peopleís responsibility. It
should be the responsibility of the people who created this mess in the first
The fact that the Trust has money or doesnít have money to clean
this up-- They had-- They didnít care about it when they put that in there. The
Trust was, like, generated to fix this up, and itís up to them to do it. It
shouldnít be, like, our taxpayer money that takes care of it. Our health and our
welfare should not play a part in this. Suppose something happens to, like, the
pipes. Some people have, like, backup of sewers and stuff in their backyards
and in their homes. I feel that as a resident of Camden, I refuse to accept this
Thatís all I have to say. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Great. Thank you very much, Linda.
Okay. Next we have Maureen Redrow, Councilwoman, Gloucester
C O U N C I L W O M A N M A U R E E N R E D R O W: Thank you
First, Iíd like to apologize. Monday nights, we have a regular
scheduled workshop, and we will have to be leaving this meeting today. And
thatís where some of the other council people are.
I did want to thank you for having the meeting tonight, for making
sure that Gloucester Township is protected, for staying involved in legislation
and making sure that itís not just left to the wayside.
In Gloucester Township, weíve been working on this issue for
many, many, many, many years. Iíve been on the Council for three years, and
Iíve recently just gotten involved in this. As some of the people that are here,
today, know, this comes up at our meetings quite often.
And weíve been very frustrated. Weíre very concerned. We live in
this township, we have family in this township, weíre concerned with the
workers, weíre concerned with the residents, and the towns that are also going
to have this water pass through to them.
We have done a few things within our means. Weíve been able to
change our Trust, because we did not feel that Gloucester Township was being
represented. So we took that step upon ourselves. Weíve hired an
environmental engineer to help Council understand what the chemicals and the
compounds are involved in this, because weíre not chemists, weíre not engineers.
So weíve asked them to help us with that. We have, also, passed resolutions to
do the on-site treatment. So, along with all the residents that are here, I think
all of our concerns are the same.
Anything that you can do to help us-- Weíve been educated
through some of the environmental committees, and I appreciate that, to those
of you that are here today. And I just want to make sure that everyone just
keeps moving in the right direction to make sure that this does not affect our
Thank you. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Maureen.
Gloria Gledhill. Is she here? New Jersey American Water
Company. Gloria Gledhill, in favor of the bill.
G L O R I A G L E D H I L L: And I will emote. I have big vocal chords.
Again, for those of you who didnít hear, my name is Gloria
Gledhill, and Iím with New Jersey American Water Company. We are, in fact,
the largest water utility in the state. We serve about one out of eight people. Itís
a lot of water.
So as the largest water utility in the state, and one that is very
conscious of the high cost that is involved with treating contaminated water, we
wanted to commend your efforts and just say that we strongly support
constructing on-site treatment to remove the waste from the water. We also
wanted to offer you our continued support with this. We do have some
expertise in that area.
So we look forward to supporting the bill as it moves through the
Assembly and on to the Senate. And if thereís anything that you might need --
questions or concerns -- we just want you to feel free to call New Jersey
American, and weíre here to help you.
So thank you for sponsoring the bill. And, like I said, anything we
can do to help--
Thatís it. Thatís my testimony. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
Ed Knorr, Green Action Alliance. Is Ed here? (affirmative
E D W A R D K N O R R: This doesnít work? (referring to recording
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: It doesnít amplify. It just records what
is being said.
MR. KNORR: Oh, okay. Iíve been known to be soft-spoken, so
I donít-- I want to make sure you can hear.
My name is Ed Knorr, Chairman of the Green Action Alliance.
Before you tonight, Chairman Smith and members of the
Committee, is a very serious issue. Itís a dangerous issue to the residents of
South Jersey, especially Gloucester Township.
I wanted to just go over a few points. My notes got a little mixed
up coming over here, so bear with me. Iíll be quick, because I know other
people want to testify.
Itís interesting, the EPA standards are established to protect the
public from the potential adverse health effects of radionuclide. I lead with that
statement right there, because I think itís very important that we seem to
contradict whatís being done, and what the EPAís focus and goal really is.
Weíre playing by two sets of rules. It seems that under the EPA
guidance, they supervise the pumping of contaminated water in the Holly Run.
Itís been well-documented that there was contaminated water pumped in there.
The concern is for how long, how much has gone in there, and what has been
that effect over the years. We may not know that until more contaminated
wells turn up.
And I think we all know the issue in the past with contaminated
wells, especially in our township and the surrounding areas, now. And North
Jersey has the same problem.
I asked everybody here, what would happen if we did this on our
property, if we had a bunch of contaminated water in our yard, on our property
-- if we decided just to pump it into the creek? (applause) I think itís very real
as to what would happened. Weíd be, first, cited for fines, locked up,
fingerprinted, processed, and then be fighting a two-year battle. And Iíd
probably be getting you, Mr. Smith, to represent me. (laughter)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Maybe.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Now, now. Thatís another
MR. KNORR: Just a little joke there.
But the sad reality is, weíre playing by two sets of rules again.
Weíre letting the polluter take advantage of the situation, and weíre putting the
burden on the residents of Gloucester Township, South Jersey, and the taxpayers
of the entire State of New Jersey, because this issue focuses on everybody
throughout the State of New Jersey. And the Judgeís ruling, unfortunately, I
donít think was focused in the right direction, nor do I think he contemplated
many of the issues that are involved with the Superfund cleanup. I know heís
been on it a long time, but thereís a lot of different factors involved in cleanup.
Iíve been in the environmental industry 23 years. I own my own business, and
I know damn well, if I did something wrong, theyíd be banging down my door
real quick. (applause)
What has been going on at GEMS is amazing. Thereís, what I
consider, violations of the National Pretreatment Program, where even the
treated water is not up to the standards it should be to travel through the lines.
I have the--
What happens in five, 10 years from now? Weíre looking at a case
scenario thatís happening right now. We do not know what the values will be
in five years, 10 years. We do know in 10 years, I believe, the State will be
taking over that project. What the State will assume, then, is all the
responsibility for the past 10 years. So if we leave this situation go, the way it
stands right now, we will be assuming the responsibility from this day forward
at taxpayersí expense, and we will be letting GEMS Trust off the hook. And I
think thatís a very serious mistake, because I think, at this point, we donít know
whatís in the ground.
They settled the Trust and got the money before they realized what
was there. Whatís going to happen in 10 or 15 years when they find something
different? Thatís the burden on us, the taxpayers. And I donít think that should
be the case. I think there needs to be more investigation into this site. There
needs to be more investigation into this whole scenario of why itís going this far,
and why the agency that set out -- the EPA -- to protect the residents of this
country have suddenly turned a blind eye to the residents and given the polluters
full steam to do whatever they want. (applause)
In closing, there are standards that we have set up. These standards
-- surface water standards for certain radionuclide -- which has become a
concern. Some people blow it out of proportion -- the guy I have sitting on the
toilet there (indicating) thatís lighting up-- It may be a little overdramatization
of whatís happening, but the point is to take a look at those issues and
understand that when we look at this factor -- the one lady who was up here
before me said about a pipe leaking-- A lot of times, with sewage leaks, you
may not find them for a month, two months, three months. We already have
enough problem with our groundwater contamination, without this situation
occurring one, two, five, 10, 20, 30 -- we donít know how many -- times
throughout the course of 30 years. And thatís only, probably, the minimum
thatís looked at for the piping of this water.
But one issue that hasnít been looked at is the accumulative effect.
I just want to quickly go over this, because Iíve worked out these tables. And
this is what was good about going to Catholic school and having detention. The
nuns used to give the times tables to do, so I can utilize this to work out my
As we look at whatís in the ground right now, at surface water
standards, this is an issue which I know you have no -- you canít control at this
point -- and even whether theyíre safe or not -- you do have control of looking --
the whole situation. This is what Iím concerned that the Judge did not see.
Weíre looking at a course of a day, as to the amount of picocuries -- radiation --
thatís put into the line that gets transported -- worker exposure -- to the
Weíre looking at 3.7 million, roughly, for radium. If we went to
uranium, weíre looking at 22.7 million. Thatís in a single day. Iím not going
to go through all the figures: day, week, month. But letís go to a year. Itís 1.6
million for radium, 3.8 million for thorium, 7.6 million for uranium. And now
we go to the 10-year plan, where we, the taxpayers, you the legislators, all join
together to take over this project. Ten years time: thorium, 38,152,800,000
picocuries pumped through those lines, through leaking, whatever, into the
Delaware River -- exposure to all the workers. And this is at surface water
standards, so these arenít hyped. Uranium, 76,000,305,000; and radium --
probably looking at 40 billion, 41 billion. So what does this tell us? This tells
us that when GEMS gets off the hook in 10 years, and weíve got to look at this
project down the line at 20, 25, 30 years, we have a hell of a cleanup at the
We have real concern for worker exposure, resident exposure, over
this course of the next 20 and 30 years. And we havenít even taken into
consideration the toxic cocktail that can form by not just one pollutant. And
Iím only talking about one at a time. Combine all these together, combine the
heavy metals together: lead, mercury, whatever else -- the volitales:
dichloroethane, perchloroethene, xylene, benzene. Combine them all together
in a toxic cocktail -- we donít know what we really have there. We donít know
what thatís going to do to the ground, the worker exposure, or to the air quality,
yet weíre letting GEMS, at this point-- And the EPA was the one that should
be bringing this point up, not the residents of South Jersey.
So I think you, when you look at this project, overall-- We have
a very serious concern for the standards that are there. And even at surface
water standards, without increasing any, we could have a serious problem in 10
Thank you very much. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Ed, thank you very much. You,
obviously, bring up very, very good points, points that were important to me
two, three, four months ago, when you came to my office, or when we met out
here, and said we need to do something about that.
We are, as a general body -- the general Legislature, general
Assembly, trying to move this legislation so that your concerns are, indirectly,
addressed. I mean, that was the whole intention of this legislation -- is to
address your concerns in the way that weíre able to, as a Legislature in New
Jersey. There are certain limitations, obviously, when it comes to Federal court
decisions. But we can affect the laws -- the substantive laws of the State of New
Jersey, and thatís what weíre trying to do with this legislation.
I just want to say, right up front, that I spoke to the Speaker today,
and he told me that this bill is going to be posed on June 12. (applause) So,
when Jeff Tittel, from the Sierra Club, said that he saw that it went through the
Committee in record speed, I think that youíll see, at least from our house, that
itís going to go through the lower house, the Assembly, in record speed. And I
have that commitment that he is going to post the bill on the 12th. And I feel
very confident, based on the arguments that youíve made, and based on the
arguments and the very, very serious concerns that the residents have, that it will
So I appreciate your coming out tonight.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: I just have a question, Mr.
Itís Ed, right?
MR. KNORR: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: You made one statement that
EPA should be bringing this to the attention -- not the residents. I will tell you,
I think from the legislatorsí standpoint in this room, we donít care how the
information gets to us. And we certainly applaud the residents for bringing to
I will tell you that Iím not an environmental expert. Iím Chairman
of the Assembly Budget Committee. Thatís where I was before I came here
today. And really, through the work of a lot of residents in Gloucester
Township -- a town that I donít represent -- and people like Bob Smith and
George Geist, who came to me and made this an issue-- And because, clearly,
there is a dollar component to it, I think they probably came to me, as
Chairman of the Budget Committee, to get involved.
The residents educate us. And we have this bad word,special interest
groups. Thereís really nothing wrong with special interest groups. Theyíre very
helpful to us. Environmental groups are special interest groups, and they
educate us, in a lot of ways, to these issues, because we couldnít know all these
things on our own.
I just have a question for you, and hopefully you can answer it
easily. Iím always-- I always find it interesting that when people buy and sell
their home, we do a radon test, and there are certain safe levels of radons in
homes. And if itís above a certain level, they have to do certain remediation
efforts in the house to lower the level of radon. But there is a safe level of
radon, supposedly. Thatís what they tell us. Again, Iím not an
environmentalist. I donít know.
MR. KNORR: Four picocuries.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Okay. Thatís for radon?
MR. KNORR: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: When I look at your numbers
here, is there a safe level? Is there a national standard or a statewide standard?
Is there a safe level of picocuries?
MR. KNORR: Thatís a good question. Actually, the safe level for
radio -- is zero, because the basic thing that we would look--
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Is that achieveable, though?
MR. KNORR: Yes, it is achieveable. By putting the right systems
in the right places it is achieveable. If itís like-- GEMS can achieve that on-site.
Theyíll have to pay, but they can achieve it on-site, and thatís where it should
The thing we look at with these standards are-- Again, these
standards are based -- and we went through this on the private well testing bill --
on a 150-pound male, not on a child, not on a woman, not on someone taking
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: But zero, then, is our ultimate
goal, I guess. But is there a level thatís safe?
MR. KNORR: You know, there has been not much studies done
on what the practicality of applying anything over zero would mean to a
human, other than what I consider a fishbowl standard, which is something that
you just put your hand in a bowl and pick a number out. And, basically, thatís
how these studies are done. Weíre all in this room. We all have different
metabolisms for -- and take medication, or whatever. We donít know how
standards are. When itís zero, we know what they are. When thereís over that,
thereís a real concern. And as they build up-- The accumulative effect is,
probably, the most important consideration with any Superfund waste-leaving
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Iím sorry. Iíve been looking at
your chart as youíve been testifying, and I was just curious, because there are
lots of numbers up here. Iím just trying to relate it to some things that I do
know. Iím sorry. I appreciate your input.
Thank you, sir.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Ed.
MR. KNORR: Thank you.
Do you want that left up there, or do you want me to take it?
(referring to chart)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: You can leave it there.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: It will give me more time to
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Yeah, I know. (applause)
Before I call the next witness up, Iíd like to introduce our
Freeholder Director in Camden County, Jeffrey Nash. (applause)
I can tell you that between myself, and Jeff, and my office, and his
office, weíve had numerous telephone calls and conferences regarding issues such
as this, particularly over the last week or so. I mean, Jeff has been extremely
helpful. Heís been very supportive. Heís somebody that is very proactive when
it comes to environmental protection in Camden County, and I appreciate that.
The next individual Iíd like to introduce--
Is David Mayer still here? David Mayer is a former councilman in
Gloucester Township, and heís another individual that Iíve spent a lot of time
talking to on legislative issues, particularly as it relates to GEMS.
Dave, I just wanted to say hi and thank you for coming out tonight.
Speaking of Federal legislators, Charles Solomon is from
Congressman Rob Andrewsí office. (applause)
C H A R L E S S O L O M O N: Good evening.
For the record, Mr. Chairman, Iím Charles Solomon, from
Congressman Andrewsí office -- and members of the Committee.
On behalf of Congressman Andrews, Iíd like to thank Assemblyman
Smith for calling the hearing.
Sharon Finlayson, Jane Nogaki, of the New Jersey Environmental
Federation; Cindy, from C.A.R.E.: On behalf of Congressman Andrews, weíd
like to thank you for educating our office, and also the constituents. As you
eluded to, this information is not readily available, and you guys put it out front
for everybody, for the community, for the papers, for everyone.
Iíd like to begin by stating the Congressmanís position, and that is
the court decision is wrong and that it should be appealed. The basis of the
appeal is, one, the court does not have the power to order the CCMUA to
accept GEMS waste. Secondly, tests were not sufficient to protect the public.
On the county level, the Congressman is hopeful that the freeholder
will appeal the courtís decision, and he will assist them in any way possible. On
the State level, he is in support, obviously, of Assembly Bill 3174, and would
strongly encourage the Assembly to adopt it as soon as possible. And on the
Federal level, he will do everything in his power, as he has done in the past, to
stop the EPA in this process.
I thank you for your time. Have a good evening.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Charles.
Debra Coyle, New Jersey Work Environment Council.
D E B R A C O Y L E: Good evening.
My name is Debra Coyle, and I represent the New Jersey Work
Environment Council, and Iím also a resident of Haddon Heights.
New Jersey Work Environment Council -- weíre a statewide alliance
of 65 unions, environmental and community groups. Together, we work for
safe, secure jobs, and a healthy sustainable environment. We have helped
advance the legal rights of workers and communities to know about toxics and
win important victories on environmental justice and workplace health issues.
My organization supports this bill for the reasons that, we believe
that CCMUA has never seriously considered the hazards posed to workers. In
fact, CCMUA managers said, publicly, that they never assess inhalation hazards
of radioactive sludge for workers, even though the sludge contains radium and
uranium that is carcinogenic. Ignoring the potential health consequences for
workers is inexcusable. They are the first to be exposed and are at greater risk
of suffering adverse health impacts.
This proposal is inadequate, unsafe, and unacceptable. Itís not
only a hazard for the workers at the CCMUA, it is a hazard for the community
the sewer lines run through, and, ultimately, devastating to our environment.
And, again, we support the Assembly bill.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Debra.
Any questions? (no response)
Sue Marks Brennan.
S U E M A R K S B R E N N A N: Good evening.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Good evening.
MS. MARKS BRENNAN: Iím the Director of a program in
Camden City known as Main Street. I was born and raised in the city of
Camden, and for the last 25 years, I have fought an environmental fight in this
county that I could probably write a book about.
But the first thing Iíd like to say tonight is, Iíd like to thank this
Committee for your insight into this problem. And we really do applaud your
efforts, Assemblyman Greenwald, Assemblyman Smith, and Senator Geist, now.
We do thank you for bringing it to the Legislature.
I would like to briefly say that the movement of contaminated
wastewater through six towns in Camden County is wrong, and it should be
stopped. And youíve heard the testimony, here, over and over again, tonight.
So Iím not going to give you all the points that youíve already heard.
The thing that I would like to stress is the role of Camden City in
all this. As I said, for the last 20 years, we have fought environmental injustice
in the city of Camden. We have had every undesirable project known to man
put into the city of Camden, and the health of the residents has been sold to the
highest bidder for at least 25 years.
To move this wastewater into Camden City is wrong, and those of
us that work in Camden City that are trying to correct some of the ills of the
past -- the environmental degradation, the economic development, all the things
that go along with the recovery of the city of Camden-- To have this wastewater
come into the city would -- dealt it a huge blow.
So I would like to say that I really do thank you for your efforts,
and Iím really glad to hear that the bill is going to be posted. Once again, the
health of the residents should not be for sale at any cost. And we look forward
to a success for this legislation.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you very much. (applause)
Karen Zawacki. Did I pronounce that correctly?
K A R E N Z A W A C K I: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay.
MS. ZAWACKI: Thank you.
Iím here tonight to oppose another feel-good legislation that is
being offered to appease the public on a serious matter that should have been
addressed a long time ago. I am offended and outraged that this is the best this
Committee, who is supposed to look out for the best interest of our precious
natural resources, could do.
As I testified in November 2002, on the Resolution AR-203,
presented by then Assemblyman George Geist, this will not solve the problem
of toxic contamination in Gloucester Township and Camden County. The real
issue to bring forth is how EPA, DEP, and CCMUA are being allowed to break
State and Federal laws against the people you represent, and how the cost of the
cleanup is being hidden in our property taxes, municipal bills, and water bills.
Regarding the banning of any Superfund site being discharged into
our sewer system or streams, this is already too late. At a meeting with Dr.
Gerald Nichols of the DEP, I received confirmation that the radioactive
discharge from the Welsbach Superfund site in Gloucester City is already being
accepted by the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority. The damage to
the peopleís sewage system has already been done. Per Dr. Nichols, this was the
plan -- was always the plan. EPA officials misrepresented themselves when they
told the public that this was not going to happen.
Also, because of an agreement called the Global Decree, a Federal
judge allowed the Holly Run Stream, which leads to the Delaware River, to be
contaminated by GEMS Superfund site for years, while the criminals who did
this figured out how to make the system they built work. This agreement was
the brainchild of the DEP and was signed by Mayor Sandra Love, without the
consent of the Gloucester Township residents that she is supposed to represent.
I have been diligent for over a year, trying to get my representatives
to act on this, with enough documentation that shows how dangerous this plan
is to the peopleís health and welfare -- how the financial burden has been put
on the people instead of who actually did this -- how CCMUA has been noncompliant
with their sludge, which is supposed to be sold to bring down the cost
of this system for the people. This sludge has been burned in incinerators,
placed under our childrenís soccer fields, placed on turf farms, and God knows
Our sole source of drinking water, which is an aquifer under GEMS,
has not been monitored right. This was deemed a sole source aquifer by the
EPA in 1988, and is to be protected. Now all the focus is on the Delaware
River as our drinking water source, which the CCMUA is discharging into while
they are non-compliant. An emergency dumping of toxic waste was done in
February of this year, because the CCMUA could not handle it. Per the Clean
Water Act of 1980, the State is responsible for the peopleís asset, which is our
drinking source. Nothing has been said about that.
Assemblyman Smith, when I came to you in March to discuss this
bill, I told you this does not go far enough to protect my township. You asked
me specifically what I wanted, which is a full investigation of this
unconstitutional act. You promised that you would send a letter, with strong
wording, to our Federal and State representatives to step in and help. To this
date, I have heard nothing from you or these representatives. Why?
Where are the Camden County freeholders on this issue? They are
the ones that created the CCMUA. Another judge forced all the towns to accept
this regional system and to sign a service agreement, which in it states that if
anything should happen, the people of Camden County will be responsible for
the debt. The freeholders are responsible for the debt put on the people by
CCMUA. The freeholders, in turn, hid behind a resolution, recommended by
the New Jersey Environmental Federation, that will do nothing. How will you
know if the discharge is environmentally sound when there are no manifests
available to know what is actually in that Superfund site? By law, all manifests
must accompany the record of decision and this has not occurred for the GEMS
Let me make you fully aware, as I told Congressman Robert
Andrews, that as per Federal U.S. Code, it is the peopleís right to know what
they are being exposed to. It is the Congressí responsibility to receive the full
plan on any Superfund site cleanup and make sure the people who will be
affected by this are aware of the full plan and agree with it. This was never done
at GEMS Superfund site, and it was never done at Welsbach.
This is a blatant infringement of our constitutional and civil rights.
Because of the devastation of Love Canal in New York, laws were put in place
to make sure this never happened again. Well, here we are in New Jersey, and
we have two perfect examples of Love Canal. History has repeated itself
because of more concern of special interest groups than the people who will be
truly affected by it.
If this Committee wants to really represent the people, they should
present legislation that will investigate this injustice towards the people done by
our Federal environmental agency, and why the Congress was left out of its duty
to the people to present these full plans. The DEP, CCMUA, and the Camden
County Freeholders, with recommendations from Sierra Club and the New
Jersey Environmental Federation -- who thought this was a good idea on how
to clean up toxic sites -- should be held accountable for the actions they took
against the people for not truly informing us. EPA should finance an
independent study on both GEMS and Welsbach to prove to the people that
these cleanups are safe, and the monitoring systems that they choose. CCMUA
should be investigated to make sure the people know the full financial and
environmental impact this has caused the system accepting radioactive waste
The people are running out of time. As their property values
decrease, the health insurance increases, and through certain taxes and bonds are
being forced to pay for this -- all are being put on their shoulders. Also, our
childrenís health and future are in jeopardy. If the true issues are not looked at
now, correctly, there will be no future for our children. The legacy they will be
left with is a toxic wasteland.
Shame on all who have allowed this to happen, but shame on you
if you feel this bill is the best you can do for the people. It is time to stand up
for the people. We, the people, are held accountable for everything we do. It
is now time for the people to hold accountable all who have put us in the
serious condition environmentally and financially, because we had a right to
know. Itís now time to do the right thing.
Thank you. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: What you want us to do is
introduce a legislation to call on Congress to impose an investigation against
MS. ZAWACKI: To investigate, yes. This is how we need to do
it. This is a Superfund, this is Congress. There are U.S. laws, this is a Federal
law. This is not county, this is not State. This is Federal, and this should be
taken care of. There are laws there that the EPA must tell the people.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: I understand. We can sit back
and-- That resolution, basically, does nothing, in all honesty, for the people
here. Congress knows that we want this cleaned up. Itís not a secret on
anybody. Itís the reason why thereís a lawsuit, quite frankly. The residents
have been very vocal about it.
We donít, as a government in the State of New Jersey, have any
authority over the Federal government, as youíre probably aware. So we can
sign a fancy piece of paper, and send it to Congress, and ask them to start an
investigation. But it doesnít require them to start an investigation.
This legislation, as I understand it-- Our purpose, as Senator Geist
and the people up here -- is try to help the taxpayers. I think we all agree with
you. Any type of carcinogens in this water is unacceptable to all of us. The
purpose of this legislation is to try to help the taxpayers, and to find a source to
clean up the cost of this contaminated water and not put that burden directly
on one community.
Again, Iím here as Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee,
to make sure-- The first goal, I think, is to get the money from the Trust. And
if the Trust, as Senator Geist, I think, has so adequately pointed out, canít be
trusted, and we have to bust that Trust, we want to make sure there are other
avenues of access for these funds. As Chairman of the Assembly Budget
Committee, I am committed, with the people on this Committee, to help find
So I disagree with you when you say that this is a worthless piece
of legislation. Itís not frivolous at all. I donít think $5 million to the people of
this community, and the surrounding communities, is frivolous at all.
We can put in paperwork to promote a resolution to the Federal
government. Weíve all sent letters, I think, to our congressional representatives,
and maybe what we should do is send it to the entire congressional delegation
for the State of New Jersey, because I think, as Mr. Tittel pointed out, itís more
than just this one site in New Jersey. Itís, really, a statewide issue. And maybe
it should be investigated. But this is a start in the right direction. And I think
I just want to make clear, I donít think this is frivolous at all,
because I donít think the taxpayers and their concerns are frivolous on this.
MS. ZAWACKI: Iím not saying itís frivolous. Iím saying itís still
fluff. Youíre still putting the tax burden on the people to clean these up. And
itís time that we stand up and take a full look at what is going on with the EPA,
and the DEP, and the CCMUA regarding the toxic waste sites.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: And I donít disagree with you
that we need to look at what the DEP is doing, and how the CCMUA is
handling this. But my goal is to make sure this doesnít fall on one community.
And right now, the direction this was going -- I think before these people got
involved -- it was headed down the throats of one community.
MS. ZAWACKI: Which community is that?
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Well, Gloucester Township.
MS. ZAWACKI: Why would Gloucester Township be involved
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: I donít know, youíd have to tell
me. That was how they approached us. The concern was to make sure that this
did not fall on the taxpayers of one community. Because if the Trust wasnít
available, and there wasnít an emphasis to find money in the State or through
other avenues -- whether itís through a Federal grant, or other programs, or to
go after the polluters themselves -- someone was going to have to -- the
community was going to demand that this be cleaned up.
MS. ZAWACKI: Oh, I believe the community has been demanding
the cleanup for years.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Maíam, the point is that we --
our goal was to make sure that this not fall on one community. And thatís the
only point I wanted to make out. This is not fluff. It is not fluff to say that this
should not fall on the backs of one community.
MS. ZAWACKI: Well, it should never fall on the backs of the
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Then you should be supporting
MS. ZAWACKI: No, why should I? Because all itís basically
doing is-- Youíre not looking at the true issues of whatís going on.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Youíre saying the true issue is
to go after the Federal DEP.
MS. ZAWACKI: Itís to find-- Yes, to break--
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: We donít have that authority.
MS. ZAWACKI: I told you to dissolve the Global Decree a long
time ago, to get rid of the Trust and put it back on the--
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: You and I have never spoken.
MS. ZAWACKI: Well, Iíve told Robert Smith.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Okay, you and I have never
spoken. So if you would like to speak with me, you are more than welcome to.
But I take exception when you suggest that this is fluff, because I donít believe
that protecting one community, and making sure that if this burden has to be
addressed, that it is spread in a more wide breast, that we attack this issue on
a global sense-- And part of that may be moving forward with DEP, but that
is not something that the State of New Jersey has the authority to investigate --
the Federal DEP, and to make that suggestion, that we can, is inappropriate.
We donít have that authority. We donít have that police power.
MS. ZAWACKI: Then who does?
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: The Federal government. You
need to contact your congress people. And youíve heard today from a
representative from Congressman Andrewsí office. He is supportive of this, and
I think heís supportive of reviewing the Federal DEP. But you need more than
Congressman Andrews. Thatís why I think, as I said earlier, we should contact
the entire Federal delegation.
And we would appreciate your support.
MS. ZAWACKI: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
M I C H A E L H O P K I N S: Good evening.
Michael Hopkins, 821 Hudson Street, Gloucester City, New Jersey.
Iíve been following the GEMS Landfill for over a year now. Iím
very concerned, number one, for all the people, not the Federation, not
anybody, but all the people.
Iíve been to meetings at the CCMUA plant, where a Dr. Nichols
said, for a 150 pound man, it would be safe--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Michael, if you will, I allowed Karen
some leeway in testifying. We are here, tonight, to testify about A-3174 -- the
public policy aspect of that bill -- so if you would -- they call it, in the
Assembly,stick to the bill.
MR. HOPKINS: Oh, okay.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Stick to the bill. I donít care about the
CCMUA and the Camden County freeholders. I want to talk about this bill,
and the public policy behind that.
MR. HOPKINS: The bill, I think, basically, should be passed to
keep it on-site and treat it on-site. Itís sad to say that the people of Gloucester
Township are being exposed to it first. Thatís very sad.
The thing about the GEMS Trust, which I donít think Iíve heard
at any of the meetings, has been the amount of money thatís in the Trust, if
thereís even any money left in the Trust -- whether itís small, or whether itís
large. I think that has to be addressed first, as far as the cleanup of it -- with not
letting it come through the sewer systems.
And I hear Mr. Greenwald saying how that seems to be a concern
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: I heard it for the first time, here,
tonight, as well, from Senator Geist. So weíre, obviously, going to look into
MR. HOPKINS: Right. About the cost -- the amount of money
that could be involved with the treatment on-site, which I think has to be done.
Specifically, I have to say -- Iím in Gloucester City, which is now
another Superfund site. Iíve lived there my whole life. And the sad thing is, I
can say, in our community, weíre not informed by our own representatives or
politicians. I attend the freeholdersí meetings. You donít seem to get any
answers from the freeholders. We have a freeholder thatís on the board --
doesnít know anything. "Contact Bush." That was my answer.
Well, you know what? I have to say, thatís really sad to say,
because a lot of people are going to be exposed, if this is transported. And even
on-site are going to be exposed to many different health hazards, many health
concerns. I think that has to be looked at.
Now, Iím under the understanding, in Gloucester City, that weíre
dumping into the sewer system right now, and thatís through the DEP. So I
have to say that draws great concern, because a lot of this is going to have a lot
of bounce back to the people, to the operators, to the handlers, to the CCMUA,
to a lot of the people, and thatís the sad thing.
And, you know, as you look around, you see your own children,
and you wonder, what are they going to be exposed to if this happens? It should
be treated on-site. The people should be kept informed. The Trust should have
to disclose the amount of money that they have.
Mr. Greenwald, I think thatís part of your thing.
That would be the thing. Let the people know whatís involved
there. We pay for the CCMUA, which we really donít know what the CCMUA
does, except handle the waste. Thereís many towns involved, and I think that
should be considered and looked at.
As you go out, maybe you should take a ride -- go over and take a
look at this landfill over here in Gloucester Township. Thereís many in Camden
County. And talking to people, you find out thereís many more. We donít
know, specifically, how many more sites will have to be cleaned up in the next
couple of years, because years ago, when they dumped articles and different
waste-- We donít know what they dumped. They donít know what they
dumped. But the sad thing is, it always falls back to the taxpayer, it falls back
to the people, it falls back to the children.
But the sad thing is-- You know, really, what I have the hardest
thing with? Itís just not us that are being exposed, itís you, itís your family, itís
your children, itís everybody. And thatís the part that I have the hardest thing --
how people can let it happen.
So I would just say, keep it on-site, treat it on-site, look into it, find
out whatís in the Trust, and they should not be able to keep their documents
Thank you for your time.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Michael. (applause)
Sharon Finlayson, New Jersey Environmental Federation.
S H A R O N F I N L A Y S O N: Iím going to wait until some of the
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay.
I have Matthew -- canít make out the -- W-O-J-C-- Matthew, what
is your last name, sir?
M A T T H E W P. W O J C I E C H O W S K I: Wojciechowski.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Beautiful, thank you.
MR. WOJCIECHOWSKI: My name is Matthew Wojciechowski.
I live in Gloucester Township, New Jersey. Iíve been a Camden County resident
since 1971. I lived in Pennsauken for 19 years. I now live in Erial, New Jersey,
for the last 12 years. I moved to this area because I was told the GEMS Landfill
was capped and safe. Now itís not safe. Now weíre dumping water into the
lakes. Now, also, the waterís going to be dumped into Camden sewer lines to
be treated in Camden.
I drive through Camden every morning going to Philadelphia. I
smell Camden treatment water plant every morning. Now, the poor people in
Camden-- I couldnít live there because of that smell. Now theyíre going to get
all this radioactive waste in their city.
Now, I know that New Jersey wants to revitalize Camden City.
Now, if youíre going to have a smelly city, itís going to be hard to revitalize.
But if youíre going to have a contaminated city, itís going to be impossible to
revitalize. So you might as well send your revitalization money to Newark, or
Trenton, or some other -- Atlantic City, or whatever -- because youíre wasting
your money sending it to Camden.
Now, you say you canít do anything about the Federal property
where the site is. New Jersey State-- Donít you own the property around
GEMS? I propose we put tons of dirt around GEMS Landfill and let them
drown in their own water. Maybe theyíll stop pumping into our lakes.
(applause) And I have a shovel in my garage, and Iíll help you. (laughter)
Now, I look at the different politicians. They seem to be pushing
things around. And Iím wondering whoís Democrat, whoís Republican, and I
wonder which side youíre standing on. I hope the people that I elect to office
are going to look out for the public health of the New Jersey residents. And I
hope that in years to come, that I canít say, "Well, so-and-so or so-and-so voted
to contaminate Camden, the sewer water lines in my township." And I think
my property taxes (sic) are going to go down, and I think Iíll have to sell now to
make a profit on my property, because I donít think those people up in New
York, near Love Canal, can sell their homes now. I hope we donít have a
catastrophe like they had up there.
So Iím concerned. If you can treat the waste on-site and stop it
from being pumped into Camden-- Now, I understand thereís a $1.7 million
connection fee between GEMS and the Camden County CCMUA. Well, if they
havenít made the connection fee yet, thereís $1.7 million right there you can
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: All right.
Matthew, I appreciate your testimony.
The reason why weíre here tonight is for the purpose of trying to
establish a solid record for support of the bill, which stands for the proposition
that we should not be pumping this type of waste through our sewer systems in
Camden County. I mean, thatís the sole purpose of being here -- is to establish
that record. So I appreciate your coming here and testifying to that effect.
MR. WOJCIECHOWSKI: And if we can keep from pumping, Iím
all for it.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Yes, thatís what this bill is all about.
Thank you. (applause)
C I N D Y R A U - H A T T O N: Good evening.
My name is Cindy Rau-Hatton. I live here in Gloucester Township.
Iím a member of the C.A.R.E. Organization, which stands for Citizens Against
a Radioactive Environment. Weíre a citizens group that wants to keep residents
of Gloucester Township and Camden County informed of this issue. And Iíd
like to publicly thank the New Jersey Environmental Federation, and the other
environmental groups, because theyíve done such tremendous work on getting
the information out there, and weíve learned a lot from them, and -- where we
should be learning from DEP and EPA.
C.A.R.E. does support--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Cindy, if you could, just try to raise
your voice a little bit.
MS. RAU-HATTON: Okay.
C.A.R.E. does support A-3174, and we also supported Resolution
203. We testified in Trenton at the Committee hearings in support of that, and
we look forward to this moving forward.
This issue has been going on for a year. And itís, kind of, grown
and grown, that all factions -- including environmental organizations; sewer
workers; citizens; all levels of government, from councils all the way up to
Congressman Andrews -- have been trying to be very proactive on this issue, and
express our concerns to EPA and DEP about being proactive on this, and
looking long-term on what the implications of this project could mean for the
next 30 years.
I had the opportunity to sit in court and observe the proceedings
two weeks ago. And I think the feelings of the Trust was summed up in this
sentence by one of their attorneys. "The concerns of the public does not
override the regulatory process."
And I think itís made very clear what all the problems are. If I
could just hit on a few, most of them have been covered. This is long-term. Itís
a 30-year project with 200,000 gallons of wastewater being pumped out of
there, daily. EPA, DEP cannot give us a 100-percent guarantee that the public,
the environment, the sewer workers will be guaranteed safety at all times.
Thereís too many what-ifs along this 30-year project. Thatís a very great
concern. It should be a concern to the State, because, as Mr. Knorr said, youíre
going to be having this project dumped in your laps in 10 years.
So weíll continue to fight this. I donít think itís over. Weíre going
to continue to stay involved. And I thank you for the opportunity of letting me
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Cindy. (applause)
Did you have a question?
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Cindy.
Guys, donít walk away, because some of us have questions on this.
We are learning.
MS. RAU-HATTON: Iím sorry.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Cindy, I want to thank you,
because youíve been an advocate for this from the beginning and helped educate
us, as well.
I think the legislation is very important, now more than ever,
because of the point that you made in watching the court case. It sends a very
clear message that the State is diametrically opposed to the finding of that court
decision. We believe this should not be piped through the towns of Camden
County or South Jersey, for that matter, and end up in the aquifers of the state.
So I think-- I appreciate your support and your insight into this
matter, and the hard work that youíve spent on this for years now. And the
community should recognize that.
MS. RAU-HATTON: I appreciate that.
But I think whatís also frustrating, when I -- when me and other
residents -- because weíre lay people at this. Iím learning along the way. There
is a solution. We know that on-site treatment, and containment, and reinjecting
cleansed water back into GEMS is a solution. And it just seems the bottom line
is about money. And I just-- I know itís a difficult situation, but you just canít
put a price tag on the environment, and workers, and our citizens as a whole --
and 10, 15, 20 years from now something awful happens, and say, "Well, we
should have done this. We could have." And weíre going to find it as a bad
page in history. So I think thatís a frustrating part, too. I just hope everybody
will prevail in this.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
MS. RAU-HATTON: Thank you. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Jane and Rodger Nogaki.
R O D G E R N O G A K I: Did you say Jane or Rodger?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Both.
J A N E N O G A K I: Weíre going up together. (laughter)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: I figured youíre husband and wife,
youíre the same coalition, weíll testify together, right? (applause)
MS. NOGAKI: Ladies first, right?
MR. NOGAKI: Yes.
MS. NOGAKI: Jane Nogaki, Coalition Against Toxics.
A lotís been said already. We are fully in support of the legislation,
and we do think that this is an action of the State, to stop this project dead in
its tracks. Much as the way, about 10 years ago, Ciba-Geigy was undergoing a
lot of scrutiny because they had a pipeline that extended under neighborhoods
10 miles out, from Toms River out to Lavallette and off-shore. And they were
dumping treated waste, pre-treated through their wastewater treatment plant,
into the ocean. Prior to that, they had been dumping in the Toms River. They
contaminated the river, so they switched to dumping in the ocean.
The residents -- when the pipes started breaking and bubbling up
in peopleís backyards and contaminating their wells, the residents, who would
never have even known that this was going on under their neighborhoods,
rallied, formed organizations, and passed a law that said there could be no
direct industrial discharge into the ocean. It was the only industrial pipeline
into the ocean. It was closed by the Legislature -- not by the EPA, not by the
DEP -- by an act of the Legislature. And, just as the private well-testing bill was
passed by the Legislature -- not by the DEP, not by the EPA -- we think itís very
appropriate for this Legislature to take action, in the same way they did, in
1986, when they passed a law that required drinking water contaminants that
were carcinogens to be set at the level to expose no more than one additional
cancer case in a million.
They set that goal. When you set a risk standard, the general risk
the EPA sets is a range of one in 10,000 -- one additional case in 10,000 people
-- to one in a million. They rarely get to that more stringent level of one in a
million. This radionuclide is not one in a million standard. Itís one in 10,000
-- one additional case in 10,000. The maximum contaminant goal for EPA is
zero radiation in drinking water. But theyíve actually set the standard at 15
picocuries, which is a one in 10,000 risk of cancer.
When you say, "Is there a safe level of radon in a home?" -- no,
there isnít really any safe level. Theyíve set this five or four picocuries, because
itís just above whatís typically found as background, and they canít really go
below background. And thatís how theyíve set this radium standard, as well.
Many places, they find the radium at three picocuries in groundwater, but not
everywhere in New Jersey.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Jane, on the Toms River
precedent, was there Federal court cases challenging that law?
MS. NOGAKI: No.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Itís interesting.
MS. NOGAKI: In fact, Ciba-Geigy is still finishing up itís cleanup,
because they closed off the pipeline. Then they had to figure out, where will
they send their wastewater. The treatment that they have come up with is to
treat on-site and reinject it back into groundwater.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Just what weíre talking.
MS. NOGAKI: Just what weíre talking about. And I think itís an
appropriate remedy: containment; treat it to the best level that you can to
groundwater standards, which are, basically, drinking water standards; put it
back into the ground. You keep recycling, pumping, and treating, and cleaning.
Youíre not spreading it out, youíre containing it under the site, and youíre not
releasing contaminants to any other medium. And thatís the best treatment.
I think New Jersey should be the first to say weíre going to go for
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Weíre doing our best.
MS. NOGAKI: I appreciate that.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Rodger, did you have anything to add?
MR. NOGAKI: I just wanted to say a couple of things.
First, like Jane -- weíre both founding members of the Coalition
Against Toxics. We are also, both, founding members of the Ellis Site Task
Force, which is a citizensí Superfund oversight group in Evesham Township, to
oversee and to, letís say, stimulate the DEP and the EPA into taking the proper
actions in the cleanup at Evesham.
So I applaud this Assembly group for having the courage to take
this responsible position in encouraging the cleanup of GEMS at GEMS. But,
you know, cleanup is not just the water. You want to find the source of the
problem and clean that up, because like at Evesham, we have a pump-and-treat
system going on over there. And we have studied this over the past few years
that weíve been running this pump and treat. And we find that the pump-andtreat
system is not working, and itís a 30-year pump-and-treat system. It could
take 100 years, it could take 200 years, it could go on forever if you donít get
to the source of the problem.
So, what our citizens group has done is, we have found -- we are
seeking new technologies to enhance the cleanup and find the source of the
problem, and get the source of the problem cleaned out of the ground so that it
does not contaminate the aquifer. And I think that thatís something that,
eventually, youíre going to have to look at, at GEMS, because you just canít
keep on doing the cheap thing today, because tomorrow itís going to be a heck
of a lot more expensive than it is today. And itís going to cost people their lives.
And I think what youíre seeing tonight-- I mean, Iíve listened to
some of the folks that have come down here. The people here are discouraged
because of what the legal system has said that they have to do. Theyíre
discouraged because the CCMUA, who is supposed to be the group that really
oversees and protects their interests -- theyíre not doing that. Theyíre looking
for the cheap way out. Theyíre looking for some extra source of income, and
theyíre forgetting that theyíre affecting the health -- the mental health of the
community. And I think that thatís whatís being affected now.
So I think that the important thing is that you folks have the
courage to take the first step in the right direction. I think thereís additional
steps that have to be found, to cure the problem and not just contain the water
on-site, but to find the source of the problem, clean it up, and help the
community heal, both physically and mentally.
So thank you for taking this first, courageous step.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Rodger. Thank you, Jane.
R O X A N E C. S H I N N: My name is Roxane Shinn. Iím a resident of
Cherry Hill, in Camden County, and I have these comments:
South Jersey residents should not -- should be able to trust that their
local water system is not contaminated with radioactive wastes. The GEMS
Landfill, once the last stop for toxic sludge from a waste treatment plant in
Northeast Philadelphia, and ranked 12th among the 546 worst Superfund sites
in the nation, should not be allowed to use the Camden County sewer system
to clean up its mess on the cheap.
Assemblyman Lou Greenwald got it right when he said, "It is absurd
to think that radioactive water can be transported safely through the local sewer
system or dumped into a stream and not harm the surrounding waterways or,
more importantly, people." Senator George Geist was also right when he said,
"The residents donít trust the Trust," and, "wonder why there isnít enough
money already to construct an on-site treatment facility."
The cozy cadre of the Trust: the EPA, CCMUA, and New Jersey
DEP, continue to promote putting radioactive water in the sewer, despite
widespread public opposition. Now residents donít trust the regulators. And
why should we? These are the very parties who permitted GEMS in the first
place, who failed miserably to monitor and prevent it from becoming a
Superfund site, and who came up with this dilution solution to pollution. They
were biased against alternative treatment plans from the beginning and have
unclean hands. The polluters donít want to pay more, and the regulators claim
they have no authority to require them to treat and clean up this Superfund
wastewater on the site.
The peopleís elected representatives have to give them the authority
and the mandate to clean GEMS water on-site. The Assembly cannot rely on
Camden County to promote the public interest. Camden County Freeholder
Director, Jeff Nash, says he is also against the plan, but the countyís lawyer
raised not one objection to the discharge of radioactive water at the last hearing
before a Federal judge last month. CCMUA, a creature of Camden County,
concocted this scheme with the Superfund polluters and accepted a prepayment
connection fee of $1.7 million before holding a public hearing on the plan. This
payment assured that the county would remain biased and an advocate of this
So itís now up to our local elected leaders -- U.S. Representative
Rob Andrews; Senator John Adler; Senator George Geist; Assemblyman Rob
Smith, and Mr. Greenwald -- to get the New Jersey Assembly to require a safer
alternative, on-site treatment and reinjection of cleansed groundwater, and to
get the Assembly Speaker to post it for a floor vote.
Today, you have heard, again and again, the commonsense
arguments against this project and against this concept of using sewer systems
to delete big pollution problems. So please remember a few key concepts as you
begin your fight to get this through the Legislature.
The GEMS cleanup is now about one thing: money. The polluters
donít want to pay, and the regulatory agencies canít make them. The GEMS
Trust knows it can clean up radionuclides at the site without great deal of
additional costs. There are lots of cost-effective solutions. What they donít
want to do is spend additional funds to clean up the remaining non-nuclear
pollutants: nutrients, ammonia, and solids in the landfillís water; pollutants that
are in too high a concentration to discharge into adjacent surface waters without
You should not let them discharge radioactive waste into the sewers,
and you should not let them discharge non-nuclear Superfund wastes either.
The solution to pollution is not dilution, and the Assembly needs to pass this
bill to establish point source treatment as State policy for hazardous waste sites.
There are many things you could do in this bill, or a complement
bill, to deal with the concern about your authority to supersede a Federal
consent order. The bill should clearly state, as one of its purposes, the
Assemblyís intent to improve both the quality and reliability of Superfund
cleanups, and to avoid the accidental or indirect spreading of low-level
radioactive wastes into the environment.
Thus, in addition to banning such discharges into municipal
wastewater treatment works, the bill could require all landfills to monitor their
effluents and discharges for radionuclides, especially Radium 226 and 228, at
least quarterly; and by New Jersey DEP at least twice yearly on an unannounced
basis; and to require DEP to post the results of this sampling on its Web site.
Testing takes time with several weeks passing between sampling and getting
back results from independent labs.
This bill, or another bill, should require municipal water facilities
to monitor their own discharges and sludge for radioactive nuclides at least twice
a year, and at least quarterly when the levels monitored exceed the standards
proposed by CCMUA, the drinking water standard of five picocuries per liter,
for receiving GEMS discharge.
This bill, or another bill, should also require wastewater facilities
to trace the source of any radioactive waste that is causing the standard to be
exceeded, and to require the wastewater facility to disconnect the discharges
when the standard has been violated. The penalties should be high for
violations. Polluters who succeed -- exceed the standards should only be able
to reconnect after payment of a substantial fine and after DEP certification that
an appropriate cleanup and control technology has been installed at the
dischargerís site to treat the radioactive waste to the standard level.
These are not idle concerns. In May 1994, the U.S. General
Accounting Office described the "Action Needed to Control Radioactive
Contamination at Sewage Treatment Plants," and recommended that the NRC
determine the extent of elevated levels of radionuclide materials at publicly
owned treatment works, and establish acceptable limits for radioactive materials
in sewage sludge and ash. In 1996, the Association of Metropolitan Sewer
Agencies conducted a confidential voluntary survey of concentrations of
radioactive materials in some of its membersí sewer sludges and ashes, and
found significant levels of potassium and radium isotopes. Based on the
limitations of the AMSA survey, the NRC and EPA decided to jointly fund a
survey of sewage sludges and ash to assess the potential need for NRC and EPA
rulemaking. Unfortunately, this study is not complete, and we do not know
how bad CCUMAís sludge is.
CCMUAís own consultant, while recommending accepting the
radioactive water, found that, "Sludge disposal to land is the greatest risk
exposure because of the four millirems per year exposure suggested by the U.S.
Department of Energy Oak Ridge Study," and "When additional data becomes
available, these results may be reviewed and modified accordingly."
This bill, or another bill, should require DEP and New Jerseyís
treatment works to publish the results of any radioactive sludge, water, or sludge
ash testing that has, or will, be conducted, and should require DEP to establish
standards limiting the amount of radioactivity that may be present in any
sewage sludge, before it can be disposed on land as fertilizer or incinerated. It
could also direct DEP to establish regulations setting standards for handling
radioactive sludge as a fertilizer, or for handling the incineration of radioactive
sludge and its resultant ash.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you. (applause)
MS. SHINN: I have a copy with the footnotes, in case you want
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Yes, thank you.
Linda Musser, is it? C.A.R.E., Citizens Against a Radioactive
L I N D A M U S S E R: Linda Musser, Gloucester Township.
I am in full support of the legislation that is being proposed. I am
very happy to hear that it will be moving forward on June 12. I attended the
hearing during the ice storm back in March, and Iím glad to see that it is going
to move forward.
One of the points that Iíd like to bring out tonight is, on the 19th
of May, I attended the CCMUA meeting, and I had learned that there had been
an upset at the CCMUA back in February, March of this year. There was a
rainstorm that washed out the tanks, and itís a microbiological process. And it
did not meet the standards, and this water was discharged into the Delaware
River, and it did not recover for three weeks. So it was discharged into the river,
untreated, for three weeks.
Aside from the radionuclides -- regarding GEMS -- aside from the
radionuclides, other contaminants of concern are being discharged from the
landfill at very high levels of contamination. As a result, it would add a
consistent and persistent burden to the Delaware River. This would be made
even worse if the pre-treatment failed at GEMS.
I guess the point that Iíd like to make is, if I had not heard about
this -- the CCMUA was not forthright in bringing this to the attention of the
public. There was no public notification regarding the upset. Iím sure they did
file-- Theyíre required to file reports with the DEP, but the burden to find out
is -- the people were trying to find out as much information as we can, and I
think that the point that needs to be made here is, if something like this were to
happen at GEMS, it could really be disastrous. And thatís why Iím glad that we
are moving forward with this legislation. And I hope that the publicís interest
is always forthright and foremost.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you very much.
MS. MUSSER: Thank you. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay, Sharon Finlayson.
MS. FINLAYSON: Thank you.
Iím Sharon Finlayson. I chair the New Jersey Environmental
Federation. I live in Camden County. I live in Pennsauken.
I wanted to go last tonight for a reason. Iím sure all of you are
familiar with the editorial that appeared today in theCourier Post. The Courier
Post opinion page quoted the judge -- and itís part of his decision -- something
that the judge said. He said, "There is no basis for concluding that the pretreated
effluent of the GEMS Landfill site will pose any risk to the residents of
Gloucester Township or of Camden."
I wanted to sit here tonight and listen to the points that the
residents made, the members of the citizen groups, the environmentalists, the
worker representatives. And I wrote down some of those points, and I wanted
to go through them, because, really, the points that these people have made
speak to the significance of the bill that is before us. It is so important for this
bill to become a tool that the State can use, not just here in Camden County,
but throughout the state, as a way to protect their neighborhoods, their
environment, their drinking water sources. It is extremely important.
We heard some different things. One is, we heard that thereís a lack
of trust in the body that is overseeing the project. Weíve heard that many times
before. We will hear it again in the future. We need a bill that will keep those
types of bodies in line and that will ensure protection for the bill.
Weíve heard the question, where is the money? Weíve heard the
issue of environmental justice, and the discharge of another pollutant, another
pollution burden, into the city of Camden -- into an area, by the way, that I
believe has just been renovated, and people fish from that pier.
Weíve heard about frustrations of governing bodies who want to do
the best to clean up and feel stymied in their efforts. These are individuals from
the Federal government on down to the county level, local level, township, who
are saying, "We want the best thing done there. We want to do the right thing.
Our hands are tied."
We heard a water utility company whoís come up here and talked
about their concerns and the cost of treating radium at treatment plants. There
is a treatment plant in Jamesburg. And Gloria has talked about the expense to
try to treat the radium there.
We heard from Ed Knorr who says, "Does the EPA hold itself to a
lesser standard?" And that is, sort of, the question that all of us have been
asking for the past year, and probably many years before that. He also brought
up the fact that the polluter takes advantage and places the burden on the
people. And over and over again, as far as this project goes, weíve been
reminded that in 10 years, the State will take over the responsibility for this
project. And in 10 years, who knows where we will be? It could be that we will
be spending many, many more millions of dollars than the five million that was
quoted today in the paper.
We talked about-- We heard about, what is a protective standard?
Are the standards of today going to be the so-called protective standards of
tomorrow? Obviously, they will not. As technology becomes better, we try to
do better, as far as capture. We saw that recently with the big debate over
arsenic, and what was the original standard, and what should it be today. Weíre
looking at it with many other issues, including dioxins and the radiums.
We heard about the cumulative effect of radioactive isotopes, and
looked at the numbers of picocuries and liters in a 200,000 gallon daily
discharge -- what it means when that discharge goes through the lines. What are
the roots of exposure? For instance, there could be leaks, there could be settling
and sediments in the lines. There could be exposure to workers.
We heard about the toxic cocktail, and the combination of toxins,
and what would that impact be. As a matter of fact, you might remember that
some months ago, in an article in theCourier Post, a professor -- I believe it was
from Temple -- was interviewed. And her response to just how -- what is the
interaction, what is the synergy of those toxins as they mix in the sewer line?
And she said that really was an unknown. It could be a very dangerous
unknown, and it could happen at any time. We could go years and not see a
reaction, or we could have one tomorrow. So that is really a concern.
There was also a question about whether there is a safe level of
radon. Ed said that there is no safe level. I wanted to remind you that, in fact,
the EPA goal is zero for radon, or for radioactive isotopes, alpha emitters. And
I happen to have, here, the Haddon Heights Consumer Confidence Report. And
I wanted to bring this up because, throughout this whole debate, we keep
hearing, from people who are supportive of this plan, that we are drinking these
drinking water standards for radium and uranium every day -- that theyíre
coming out of our taps. And, in fact, thatís simply not the case.
Haddon Heights measures their alpha emitters, in picocuries per
liter, in a range from .22 picocuries per liter to 3.6. Thatís nowhere near the five
picocuries standard. And they also list their maximum contaminant level goal
So I think we need to, sort of, dispel that impression that weíre
getting -- weíre all drinking this radium and uranium every single day. Weíre
The other thing I wanted to, very quickly, bring up -- if I have it
with me -- itís right here -- is that this isnít-- The concern about whether we
have radioactive isotopes in our drinking water supplies is not an isolated issue,
and itís not an isolated problem. On April 25, in the legal notices,
Merchantville-Pennsauken Water Commission wanted to notify the public that
they had levels of gross alpha above drinking water standards and were making
efforts to remedy the situation.
So people say, "Well, why is it of concern if youíre getting it to a
so-called drinking water standard?" The concern is that weíre continuing to add
this burden -- this pollution burden to our drinking water sources.
And I also wanted to remind you that in the study done for
CCMUA, by DeMaximus -- I think it is on Page 21 -- they say that there is no
safe level of exposure to radiation. It is in the report done for CCMUA.
We also heard that there are Federal concerns from Rob Andrewsí
aide, and that they are committed to assisting in stopping this GEMS flow.
We heard from the Work Environmental Council that the CCMUA
has not seriously considered health impact to workers.
Weíve heard concerns about the quality of cleanup and who will
pay, and I wanted to just add to that, that we all know that taxpayers will
always pay. Either we will pay with our dollars, or weíre going to pay with our
And we also heard a question about what are people asking for?
Are people calling for the right cleanup? And I think that it isnít an issue of
whether people have been calling for the cleanup. People have been consistently
calling for GEMS to be cleaned up, and other Superfund sites to be cleaned up.
I think the question lies in, what is the acceptable quality of cleanup? And
thatís really where weíre at with this, and what your bill will help to remedy.
What is the quality that we should accept? We should accept only the best.
We also heard from Mike, from Gloucester City, about his own
Superfund site and the fact that theyíre, now, moving the treated wastewater
from that site, which was originally going through a swimming pool pipe and
into the Newton Creek through that CCMUA -- or through the sewer lines. And
I wanted to bring that up, because it demonstrates how quickly these types of
practices are adopted, and that itís one more source of radioactive isotopes into
our sewers, our sludge, and the Delaware River.
And speaking of sludge -- before you cut me off -- I just wanted to
bring up the solid waste -- the latest draft for the Statewide Solid Waste
Management Plan, which addresses -- one section of it addresses sludge. And
it is going to be a policy of the State to, now, encourage the reuse of sludge
throughout the state, bearing in mind that there is no true treatment for uranium
at either site -- either the pre-treatment site at GEMS, or at the CCMUA. They
are simply testing, and theyíre going to see if it goes above the acceptable
standard. At such time that they know it goes above the acceptable standard,
theyíll decide that they will then address it.
Theyíre actually, at CCMUA, relying upon the sludge to attract,
because radioactive isotopes are attracted to solids. They are relying upon the
sludge to attract these isotopes. The sludge will then go to either a turf farm in
the summer, which has been the history, and where itís land applied, or it will
be burned in an incinerator. If itís burned in an incinerator, it will come out as
a radioactive isotope and, simply, move into the -- through the air. So this is a
problem that must be addressed if weíre going to be applying sludge in the State
and, actually, promoting it.
They also talk about the issue of radionuclides in sludge, as well as
mercury dioxins and some other contaminants. But thatís-- We need-- This
goes beyond just right here.
The other things we heard about were real estate values. One
gentleman brought up the real estate value of his house, and questions what that
value, now, is. And thatís a strong concern.
Again, there was an attitude of the Trust, and that-- And I thought
the quote from Cindy was great. I was at that hearing, as well. "The concerns
of the citizens do not override the regulatory process." We are the citizens.
This is where we live. We have every right to express concern and do what we
need to do in order to make this the best remedy.
Jane gave examples of State laws that resulted in protection where
there was none before, and also mentioned that the radium standards are for one
in 10,000 protection, not one in a million, as many people are lead to believe.
Again, thereís this false sense of security.
And Rodger talked about the need to find the source of the
problem, and I wrote that down. And he talked about getting the best cleanup
to date. I wrote that down, because there has been this, sort of, public relations
effort to convey to the public that this is naturally occurring radium and
uranium. And, in fact, there is nothing that validates that assumption.
As a matter of fact, some of the uranium levels are extremely high.
Theyíre well over 200 picocuries per liter in some of the test samples. They
refer, in the studies, to the U.S.G.S. studies, and they use that, sort of, as a
reference. And yet, I spoke with a person that they quote. And he told me that
in tests done here, in South Jersey, they have never found combined uranium
levels -- that is, different types of uranium combined and then counted -- at
higher than one picocury per liter. Some of the test samples were well over 200.
That would tend to make someone like me, a layperson, think this might not be
naturally occurring, and so who knows what we may find as we move into this
cleanup and draw the plume, as we begin to draw the plume from the center.
We donít know what we might find in the future.
And, also, Linda brought up her experience in going to CCMUA to
try to find out about a treatment failure, a treatment failure that went on for
three weeks. We really donít know the history of failures at the CCMUA and
we certainly cannot predict what failures might occur in the future. But they
could be catastrophic when we look at not just the radionuclide issue there, but
the huge number, the many contaminants that will leech from that landfill.
Remember, now, by law, I think we look at somewhere around 120
contaminants. Those are the contaminants that are identified. But there could,
literally, be thousands of contaminants coming from that landfill. And thereís --
certainly the allowable level is well, well above drinking water standards for
those contaminants, other than the radionuclides that are coming through the
So getting back to my original point -- and that was that the judge
says there is no basis for concluding that the pre-treated effluent of the GEMS
Landfill site will pose any risk to the residents of Gloucester Township or of
Camden County. I think that the many people here gave informed points and
valid concerns. They were expressed by a wide range of people, and citizens
from the many neighborhoods. I think the judge is wrong, and I just want to go
on record as saying that we will support any appeal by the county.
Thank you. (applause)
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you, Sharon.
I had Sharon listed as the last speaker. Did we miss anybody?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Iím not signed
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: You have to just, if you would, come
up and state your name and your address.
Is there anybody else? (affirmative responses) Everybody, come
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Is there anyone else? (no
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay.
Just for the sake of time, we just want to keep it as brief as possible,
if you would.
We need everybody to--
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: I just want to
give him something.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Sure, as long as itís not--
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Radioactive.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: --letter bomb.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: This is
something I found in--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Oh, okay. Thank you. Thatís great.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Thatís how long
weíve been fighting this.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Interesting.
T H E R E S A L A N D - F I T Z P A T R I C K: Like a lot of us here, weíre
all just trying to get--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay, what-- Maíam.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Iím sorry. Theresa Land-Fitzpatrick,
590 Lower Landing Road, Townhouse 152, Blackwood, New Jersey.
Like so many of us here, weíre here to get answers. And as I was
sitting here, I was starting to write a lot of questions.
My first one is-- I understand that, Mr. Smith, you have a
legislation up that you said you enacted in March of 2003 -- it came out of
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Well, let me just say this. This,
probably, isnít the forum to ask questions. Iíd be happy to talk to you after the
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Oh, I thought this was regarding the
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: It is. Itís testimony on the bill. If you
have any opinions regarding the substance of the bill, thatís what this hearing
is. I mean, if you have any questions, Iíd be happy to help you after the
Committee hearing. Or Maggie or Jeff could help you.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: You canít-- All right. Well, could
you at least tell me when this bill was proposed?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: January 16 of this year. It was
reported out of Committee, favorably, March 6 of this year.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Itís going to be posted for a
vote on June 12.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Correct.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay. Is that the usual amount of
time that it would take to get a bill, once this comes out of subcommittee, to the
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: I really donít know. I mean, some bills
have gone quicker, some bills never get out.
Jeff, whatís your experience? It went pretty quick, didnít it?
MR. TITTEL: (speaking from audience) If you get a bill into law
within six months, thatís pretty quick, quite frankly. There are bills that go
back to when Senator Keanís father was--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Maíam, is there any testimony
regarding the bill?
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Oh, Iíve got some definite issues that
I would like to speak in regards to.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: One of them is that, from what I
understand, this legislation only deals with the GEMS Landfill issue. Is that
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: No.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Itís going to deal with the whole
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: The bill specifies that no radioactive
waste shall be allowed to be transported through our public sewer systems,
whether itís GEMS or any other landfill in the State of New Jersey. Itís not just
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay, only because we have things
that have gone on that we donít know, and I know that Karen, whoís the
founder of C.A.R.E.-- The only reason she has been able to educate so many
of us is because of former Assemblyman, now Senator, Geist -- enacted the
Right-to-Know Law. And it was through that, that a lot of us were able to get
Iíd like to know that -- if this legislation will allow us, as citizens,
to have more of a right to know, because at this point, we donít. We really have
no rights to know. And every question that we ask -- itís either in litigation, or
whatever. But weíre not told anything.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: It has nothing to do with Right-to-
Know. It strictly has to do with the substantive law in the State of New Jersey,
public policy. And that public policy is that we donít want radioactive waste
transported through our sewer systems. It has nothing to do with Right-to-
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: There are other laws dealing
with the right to know in the State, and public notice, and disclosure of public
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: That were already enacted.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: That are being discussed in
other forums and are being moved through the Assembly and the Senate, like
this bill is being moved through.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay. So we will have more right to
know in the future.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: If it passes. This bill deals
solely with radioactive waste being transmitted through our sewer systems
anywhere in the state.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Now, Mr. Smith, how long have you
been on this subcommittee for environmental issues?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Iíve been on this Committee, which is
Agriculture and Natural Resources, for three-and-a-half years.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay. And this subject never came
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: It was brought to my attention back
in January of 2003, when I had a conversation with a number of the people in
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay. So you were unaware of Mr.
Geistís proposal that was enacted -- that was proposed in November of 2002?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Which proposal is that?
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Assembly Resolution No. 203.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: I was certainly aware of it. Iím the cosponsor
of that resolution.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay, because Iím a little confused --
if this was proposed in 2003, why there needed to be another one done in
January of 2002.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Well, theyíre completely different
documents. One is a resolution, which has no binding authority. One is a bill,
which, hopefully, will become law, which has binding authority in the State of
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Are the two combined in the same?
Because what Iím reading in this seems to be different than what youíre
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: It is different.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: And Iím hoping that, eventually, the
two can come together, because I do see things in this legislation that give the
people more the right to know, will give more testing, will allow more things,
rather than just give a blanket statement, "It canít go through." Because we
already have a court order saying it must go through. We have no monitoring
system set up at the GTMUA, yet, that will allow for this. And I need to know
that if this bill is enacted -- will the State Legislature be willing to go to the
supreme court -- U.S. Supreme Court? Because I do know that, presently, the
U.S. Supreme Court does, really, in most cases, generally sides with State rules
when it comes to these matters, unless itís superseded by an EPA rule -- a
So, what Iím saying is that, if this bill is enacted, is this something
the State is willing to fight, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: This bill, here?
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Yes, because this bill is going to ban
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: The bill thatís the subject of this
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Iím sorry, what?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: The bill that is the subject of this
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Right.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay. What was your question?
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: If it is enacted--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Right, if it becomes law.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Is this something that the State is
willing to take up to the U.S. Supreme Court? Because, right now, we have a
court order to do this. And this bill is going to come in afterwards. Is it going
to be grandfathered?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: The Federal judge, in making a
decision, looks to the substantive law in the State of New Jersey, meaning what
law is on the books, what is statutory, what is regulatory. There were no laws,
prior to this decision, about the transportation of nuclear waste through sewer
facilities, through sewer lines. If that law was in effect at the time the decision
was made, I donít think he would have ruled that way, because it would be
illegal, in the State of New Jersey, to transport that nuclear waste through sewer
So, I still believe, appeal or no appeal, that this bill, once it
becomes law -- and I hope that it will -- I can speak for my house that it, most
likely, will be passed -- has the ability to negate the Federal judgeís decision,
because the substantive law in the State of New Jersey is different.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: But wonít that be after the law? So
wouldnít they be looking at the law that was in effect at that time, which in this
case would, basically, grandfather anything thatís already been happening?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Jeff, I see you shaking your head. Do
MR. TITTEL: Well, I would just say that once--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: You have to come up to the
MR. TITTEL: I just wanted to say that once you change the law,
it would then open up new litigation. Basically, what would happen--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Mike-- You have to get up to the
MR. TITTEL: Iím sorry.
If a bill becomes law--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club.
MR. TITTEL: Iím sorry. Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club.
If a bill becomes law, what happens is, that becomes the law of the
land, and it overturns court decisions. So the State of New Jersey could then get
an injunction against GEMS to discharge into that sewer system, based on the
new law, which would then -- which then GEMS could challenge, but then
GEMS would lose.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: So the grandfather act would not
apply to this.
MR. TITTEL: Right, because you go for injunctive release against
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay, because my concern is that it
would go to that.
Now, sludge was brought up as an issue. Are you aware that the
EPA is going to come out with new guidelines in regards to that, in the next
couple of months? Because when I met up with the State DEP--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: No.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: --regarding sludge, they stated that it
would be coming out in a couple of months.
And does your bill address the sludge that will accumulate just
before it is pumped up to the Erial pumping station, which is where it would go
running through first?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: No, it does not.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Do you know the hazards of sludge,
as far as what has been put out by the EPA at this point?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: What I would like to do, respectfully,
is to reserve questions until after the meeting. If you have any comments
specifically on the bill, on 3174, this is your opportunity. I didnít announce
this at the beginning, but generally, as a matter of protocol, in Committee
hearings across the board, five minutes limitation.
Do you have any comments about 3174?
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Well, just like I said, I hope that you
will consider some of the points that are put out through Georgeís resolution--
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Absolutely. Iím a co-sponsor of that
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: --that are not included in yours.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREENWALD: Maíam, just to answer your
question. Senator Geist, when he was in the Assembly, offered resolutions. The
bill, itself, which Senator Geist supports, and endorses, and is a prime sponsor
of, incorporates portions of his resolution. I think Senator Geist would say that
a legislation that can become law is more powerful than a resolution, which is,
basically, a recommendation.
In his-- He had offered amendments, which we adopted and will
be voted on as a part of this bill in its core on June 12, that provide for a site
operated -- would also be required to make available -- free to the public -- the
test results for pollutants on the site. The DEP would be required to hold
monthly public meetings concerning the site remediation, which is, I think, part
of your public awareness message. And the measure, also, would require that
the public be given an update on the funds that have been spent to remediate
the site. Those were the amendments -- the only amendments offered by
Senator Geist that we all agreed upon, adopted, and supported. It really makes
the resolution moot at this point, and moves the legislation as a more binding,
more powerful effect.
And that is where this currently sits, and it will be ready to be voted
on, on the 12th. And, actually, through a, really, quirk, which is to the
advantage of this bill, Assemblyman Geist has now moved over to the Senate,
where he can be an active and vocal voice for a bill that he was instrumental,
with Bob Smith and myself in the Assembly, to help make a reality. So we will
have a voice on both floors, which doesnít always happen.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Well, thatís good, because just from
what I read in the newspaper, itís just saying that some of the comments were
made that it didnít seem that -- these amendments werenít being incorporated,
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: They absolutely were.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: --it was just your bills, and that was
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Senator Geist is still here. He offered
up the amendments at the Committee. It was unanimous. It was released with
the full amendments.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: So then your comments in the
newspaper didnít really reflect the actual realities of this bill.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: I donít believe that to be the case, but
thatís a matter of interpretation.
MS. LAND-FITZPATRICK: Okay, thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
S A N D Y K E E N: My name is Sandy Keen, and I reside at 2833 South
Blackhorse Pike; and I did reside in Cross Keys, in the Washington Township
section, about, Iíd say, eight years ago -- which I was affected by radoncontaminated
water, and high nitrates in the well, previously, and uranium, etc.
My property, now, in Williamstown, Monroe Township, has been
mercury-contaminated for at least three years, but the whole area has been
mercury-contaminated for many, many years.
I commend you, Assemblyman Smith, for coming out to a meeting
that was a very serious meeting, because we do live in the Pinelands. I have
dealt with the Senator, and I have dealt with Christie Whitman, and the EPA,
and the United States Ground Survey Committee.
When I heard about the GEMS Landfill, and this waste getting put
out towards Camden-- I know what mercury has done to the sewer systems in
Monroe Township, so I can imagine what radionuclides are going to do to the
sewer systems and the lines going out to Camden. Iím an advocate for treating
on-site. Whatever bill is to be passed, Iíd be an advocate for that. Itís a very
serious issue, especially when these radionuclides start coming down through our
creeks, because we havenít been affected by that yet. But once they start coming
down through our creeks and mixing up with mercury, then weíre going to have
serious problems -- cocktails.
So the-- My health has been affected. I had a child that was
affected by all this. And itís time that we move on with this. And the Pinelands
are a Federally protected area.
The State has been giving all the moneys to North Jersey to,
actually-- Once again, South Jersey, here -- our Pinelands -- are affected, and
we need help.
I think itís a very serious issue, and letís move on with the whole
issue, and letís let our state grow into the beautiful Garden State that it is.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you very much.
MS. KEEN: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you. (applause)
I just want to simply thank everybody for coming out this evening
for this very important issue.
Senator Geist, thank you for remaining here throughout the
Committee hearing and listening to the testimony.
Freeholder Director Jeff Nash is still here. I appreciate his
attendance, him coming out and listening to the concerns of the residents here
in Camden County.
Assemblyman Greenwald, I appreciate you showing up and,
actually, sitting in on a Committee that is not your own, in a town that you do
not represent. I think that really shows your commitment to this issue. So I
I just want to thank everybody, again. And, hopefully, we will see
some movement on this bill, June 12. I stated previously, it will be posted, and
I fully expect that the bill will be released from the Assembly.
Thank you very much for coming out. (applause)