CARTERET—On Friday, Oct. 2, Mayor Daniel J. Reiman was joined by representatives from 12 regional chemical companies that operate facilities in Carteret, for a ceremony featuring the signing of the “Hazmat Funding Agreement” (HFA).
The contract has been lauded by borough officials as being the first of its kind in the state and possibly the nation, and one which will lead to significant improvements within its emergency service departments.
According to Reiman, the Borough Council recognized the potential demands big industry can place on emergency services and in 2005 passed an ordinance to require hazardous chemical to pay for the specialized equipment, training and supplies needed to respond to emergencies involving their hazardous material operations.
That year, Kinder Morgan and BP Amoco, two of the largest companies to be regulated by the ordinance, challenged Carteret, resulting in four years of litigation in a federal district court in Newark. A federal magistrate supervised settlement negotiations which resulted in the establishment of the Hazmat Funding Association, and a long-term emergency services funding program.
Beginning this year, the borough will enter into a 10-year contract with the chemical companies that store large quantities of hazardous materials in Carteret. For 2009 the Borough will receive a minimum of $270,000 from the Carteret Hazmat Funding Association, and an additional $275,000 endowment will be provided next year. Funding for the remaining 8 years will be determined according to a cooperative needs assessment.
The agreement also provides that $40,000 a year from the settlement be set aside for a future foam pumper fire truck by 2011.
Companies in the Hazmat Funding Association include: Kinder Morgan, BP Products of North America, Inc., ICL Performance Product, LP, Ashland Distribution Company, Prime Lube, Inc., NACA Logistics, Oxford Instruments Superconducting Technology, Intertek OCA, Laboratory Service, Inc., Nu-World Corporation and Cadbury Schweppes.
“The bottom line is, there was a discrepancy between the specialized training and equipment our emergency services require, and how much of that was the responsibility of the chemical companies,” Reiman commented. “The equipment and training associated with emergencies involving hazardous materials ought to be funded by the entities that have created that demand not the residential taxpayer.”
Earlier this year, the mayor announced that the Borough had been awarded $216,760 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant will allow for the addition of two new hires for the Carteret Fire Department, specifically to meet the growing need for Hazmat emergency specialists and resources, and will be matched by an endowment of $298,811 from the Hazmat Funding Association.
“We’re fortunate to finally have reached this agreement,” Councilman and Fire Commissioner Randy Krum added. “We’re committed to providing the best possible emergency services to the entire community. The presence of large industries in Carteret has established emergency service needs that supersede what residents should be accountable for. The Hazmat Funding Agreement will allow our personnel, training, and equipment to be kept consistent with modern safety standards, and residents and businesses alike will be better prepared for chemical related emergencies.”
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