League President Urges Study On Rahway Arch Proposal

League of Women Voters NJ President Toni Zimmer (LWVNJ photo)

League of Women Voters NJ President Toni Zimmer (LWVNJ photo)

CARTERET – The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has called on Gov. Chris Christie to put the brakes on the Rahway Arch project, which would involve capping a chemical waste disposal site in Carteret, near the mouth of the Rahway River, with a mixture of cement and petroleum products.

At one time the property was used by American Cyanamid, which then had a plant across the river in Linden, to dispose of waste materials. The current owner is Rahway Arch Co., which has hired a firm called Soil Safe to pave over the area.

In her letter to the governor, League President Toni Zimmer pointed out that the site now serves as a retention basin for millions of cubic feet of water. She noted that plans call for the cap to be graded so that runoff, which up to now has been held in the basin, flows into the river. “Because of this, we are concerned about what would happen to the river if the cap should collapse—or even if a gradual deterioration occurs, as is bound to happen over a period of years.”

The League sees no justification for waiving the Flood Hazard Control Rules, which would be necessary for construction to proceed, Zimmer wrote. She warned that “such a waiver could only increase flooding prospects in Carteret, Linden … and nearby Rahway.”

That also was one of the issues raised by Debbie Mans, New York-New Jersey baykeeper, speaker at a recent program on the controversial project sponsored by the Union Area League. A Star-Ledger opinion piece by former Cranford Mayor Dan Aschenbach focused on the same concern.

Another important concern is that the wetlands on the site provide nesting and foraging grounds for at least 10 state-threatened or endangered species, Zimmer’s letter said.

“We urge NJDEP to prohibit any construction work at the site until an environmental impact study is completed and made available to the public and a public hearing is held within the affected area,” she wrote. “We call on NJDEP to follow all of its own stringent rules and regulations in handling this matter.”

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