VINELAND — City officials said they will use all possible means to stop a new hazardous-waste-treatment operation from opening at the former Pure Earth Inc. hazardous-waste site.
The decision follows what city officials said were discussions with state and federal agencies last week and talks Wednesday with representatives of Tradebe Environmental Services, the Spanish company seeking to open the new facility.
“We unequivocally restated our position that the city is not interested in hosting another waste facility of this type in our industrial park and will take all necessary steps, including legal, if appropriate, to protect the residents and businesses of Vineland,” Mayor Ruben Bermudez said in a statement. “I think it is safe to say that all parties involved are very clear where we stand.”
Bermudez said Tradebe officials told his administration earlier that the company would not locate where their facilities are not wanted.
“I now hope they will respect the decision we have made,” Bermudez said.
Tradebe officials could not be reached for comment.
State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine said the department has made no final decision on the Tradebe proposal.
“We know Vineland’s stand on this,” he said. “We understand where they’re coming from, and their concerns have definitely been heard.”
The DEP will continue to “discuss what to do going forward,” Considine said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proceeding with a stabilization and remediation program at the Pure Earth site. Local officials said it will cost at least $1 million. The EPA started the work in July after being notified by the DEP about significant problems at the site.
City officials charge that Pure Earth abandoned the site on North Mill Road in February 2011, leaving behind more than 250,000 gallons of used motor oil, 100 55-gallon drums of chemicals and acres of stockpiled contaminated soils. They further allege that runoff from the site is leaching into soil and possibly ground water and tributaries of the Maurice River.
Tradebe is seeking permit approval from the DEP to use the Pure Earth site for a hazardous-waste-processing plant.
Bermudez said in the statement that a review of Tradebe’s operations at its other facilities shows the company is “not negligent in their business practices.” Local officials still believe that the company’s operations will result in some level of contamination, he said.
“While there is not doubt Tradebe performs a critically important service … it clearly should not be located near residential areas and food-processing facilities,” the mayor said in the statement.
City Council also opposes the opening of a new hazardous-waste-treatment facility at the Pure Earth site.
“City Council is in lockstep with the mayor’s position on the permit transfer, and we will vote on a resolution of support as soon as possible,” Council President Anthony Fanucci said in the statement.
Bermudez said in the statement that the city will keep pressuring government agencies to make sure that contamination at the Pure Earth site is dealt with properly. He said his administration will also continue to press the state Attorney General’s Office to prosecute all parties responsible for the contamination at the site.
Officials with the Attorney General’s Office said that prosecution request, formally made by City Council in February, would be reviewed and given “appropriate consideration.”
“We will not be satisfied until the site has been fully cleaned and we can return it to the tax rolls,” Bermudez said.
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