Have you ever heard of Soil Safe? I hadn’t until I read an article in The New York Times about how the state of New Jersey wants their business.
The Soil Safe Web site explains the “beauty” of what they contribute to the world. They specialize
in the recycling of soils contaminated with a variety of petroleum products and heavy metals. Since our founding, Soil Safe has processed over 18.5 million tons of contaminated soil from over 40,000 successful remediation and construction projects.
While I wish I had the time to investigate whether that 18.5 millions tons of contaminated soil has been as successfully remediated as Soil Safe claims, it seems their boasts are sufficient for New Jersey. The state intends to use their dumping trucks to lay some toxic waste in the vicinity of the Rahway River in North Jersey. This particular site is a little wildlife haven for diamondback terrapin, yellow-crowned night herons, and bald eagles, but it appears it shall be thrown under the wheels of the trucks because there are big bucks to be made. When weighing billions of dollars against the health and safety of the citizens of New Jersey, and their environs, money is talking way louder.
These are the facts according to The Times:
1. Soil Safe will dump enough petroleum-contaminated soils to create a 29-feet-high mound of garbage in North Jersey between Staten Island and the Arthur Kill. (I am pretty sure this area may already be an environmentally-polluted area, or is very proximate to another landfill dumping site. Could the unsaid perverse reasoning of it all be that it really doesn’t matter, given what’s already in the ground around there?)
2. Since the plan was first floated, back in 2010, to as recently as last year, various experts within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have verbalized the fact that dumping this much contaminated soil could have severe consequences on the environment. One grave concern would be a flood. In such circumstances, that mound filled with soil laced with oil could collapse into the water.
But what’s a little pollution in the riverbed? The agency, whose goal is to protect the environment, gave conditional approval for Soil Safe to proceed.
The Times made a connection with the workings of New Jersey politics. It looks like profits are to be made, either though direct distributions to the pocketbooks of certain well-connected people, or to the campaign coffers of others.
For example, Soil Safe is a client of Bob Smith, duly elected state senator of the 17th Legislative District, Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, and a lawyer in the firm of Bob Smith & Associates. The Times stated that Senator Smith “represented Soil Safe at a hearing before an elected county board.” That means the chairman of the state Senate’s committee that oversees the environment got paid for representing a company that deals with materials that contaminate the environment. Not sure what happened to conflict of interest concerns.
At the moment, Soil Safe pays the three landowners of the future dumping site rent of $75K a month. It is unclear to me what they could possibly be renting. Are they paying “rent” for the right to be guaranteed the contract to dump? But this is a paltry sum because “if the deal goes through, (Soil Safe) promises the owners many millions of dollars in tipping fees.”
What are tipping fees? Another way of saying, “pay-off”? Or, “thank-you”?
There are other politicians that are benefiting from a connection with Soil Safe. The State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney is logistically close, being that he serves out of Gloucester County, and Soil Safe runs operations out of the same county. Mr. Sweeney and the county both seem to have gotten a little richer from the generosity of Soil Safe.
It also appears that Governor Christie has a hand in the pie, if not exactly directly, through the throwing of political favors. But that’s a whole different story on a different day.
In Naples, it is said the Camorra controls the garbage, and makes the money. In New Jersey, we anoint our duly elected officials to be our Camorra.
Unfortunately, all the facts are stated correctly. There are more than 1850 signatures on the petition to stop that dump, here is the link:
Julie Seyler said:
Thanks for this info. I signed the petition. Julie
You should check out the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s lawsuit against these guys.
Julie Seyler said:
I will definitely be looking into that. Julie