STATE – With the potential to be the most devastating storm to hit the state in decades, Hurricane Irene could have a significant environmental impact according to the New Jersey Sierra Club.
“As we are evacuating people from our coastal and flood prone areas, there are many facilities in New Jersey that are also in harm’s way. We are concerned that many important parts of our infrastructure as well as many hazardous sites are in harm’s way. This hurricane could do a tremendous amount of damage to critical infrastructure and hazardous sites and facilities. This could be a natural disaster with the potential to be an environmental disaster as well,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.
Many of New Jersey’s industrial facilities, as well as toxic sites that need to be cleaned up, are located in coastal and flood prone areas. There are millions of tons of toxic material and toxic waste stored in low-lying areas along the path of the hurricane, warns the Sierra Club. Major chemical plants like DuPont’s Deepwater and Chambersworks facilities sit on New Jersey’s coast. The Bayway Refinery in Linden is a former wetland area. Many superfund sites also sit on the state’s coast or in low-lying areas. There are toxic lagoons at many of these current and former chemical sites such as American Cyanamid or National Lead along the Raritan River.
“We need to make sure we do a better job in limiting development in flood prone areas, protecting and restoring marshlands, adopting better construction codes for flood prone and hurricane prone areas, and coming up with programs to move people out of harm’s way, the best and safest way to protect life and property,” said Tittel.
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