Sunday, April 13, 2003

 
IT'S "LIGHTS OUT" ON DISPUTED BONDING ORDINANCE
But "flickers" as council reintroduces after objectors leave

By Chrjs Neidenberg

A controversial $815,000 bond ordinance defeated Nov. 20 and facing major opposition suddenly gained new life - after the Borough Council quickly reintroduced it that night.
And the item drawing the loudest howls was a roughly $300,000 proposal for installing Memorial Park baseball field lights - a matter the council has periodically reviewed for years.
Reintroduction occurred after Republican Mayor Wayne Kuss - seeing that many of the lights' opponents were leaving after the first vote - recessed the meeting as the room cleared out.
Though this scenario sounds somewhat contradictory, the ordinance was actually first adopted via a 3-1 majority. Yet Borough Attorney Andrew Fede ruled that, as a bond ordinance creating debt, two-thirds of a full council (four of six) needed to enact it. Democratic Councilpersons Thomas Richards and Jeanne Matullo - who supported introduction on Oct. 22 - were absent.
So it would not have to wait until the 2003 council convenes (assuming Richards and Matullo keep supporting the measure), the majority followed Fede's advice and reintroduced it shortly after the crowd left.
A new advertised public hearing is sheduled for a special meeting during the Dec. 18 session. The council set the schedule to give it the staturorily-required time to legally re-advertise it. Thus, opponents, who think the matter has been dropped, must quickly mobilize again.
Voting for the ordinance (and reintroduction) were Democratic Councilman Dr. Tim Eustace and Republican Councilmen Fred Zigrest and Thomas Gaffney. Opposed was Republican Councilman James Petrie.
At least 50 residents attended the meeting. Some of those speaking against the ordinance, coming from the Memorial Field area, found particular fault with the lights, which supporters want installed to give the Maywood Youth Athletic Association (MYAA) greater flexibility in scheduling league baseball and soccer games. Two MYAA reps pleaded with the council to move forward.
Other opponents contended that the measure was fiscally irresponsible during tough economic times, and that the lights could wait another day (or night).
In reality, most of the funds allocated are targeted for items and vehicles designed to help Maywood's emergency volunteers and public works employees. The proposal calls for authorizing the issuance of bonds and bond anticipation nptes. It would require Maywood to make an aggregate $40,000 downpayment using current funds, while borrowing $775,000 in bonds and notes as the principle - repayable over time under what is determined to be the prevailing rate of interest. The municipality will determine this during a bond sale with interested banks..
Periods of usefulness for these items range from five to 15 years (the latter applies to the lights). Bonds would be floated for: the lights ($279,000), a public works forestry truck and wood chipper ($151,000), an ambulance ($140,000), fire turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus and equipment ($133,000), installation of an early emergency warning system ($39,000), and a fire police four-wheel drive emergency vehicle $31,000).
Via bonding, a council majority has decided to have taxpayers pay even more in the long run so it can buy the items now, without large amounts of upfront cash..
This borrowing comes as the council, in its last budget, approved a $2,315,000 capital improvement program (from 2002-2004) it does not have to enact. But if it does, taxpayers can expect much more bonding in the coming years.
Upon adopting its budget last July, the council raised property taxes with a $10.1 million 2002 budget and an $885,000 anticipated surplus. In opposing the bond proposal, Petrie insisted that his biggest problem was incorporating financing the lights into the initiative. He argued that Maywoodians cannot just keep paying more and more in the coming years.
Yet the lights' council supporters, including Gaffney and Zigrest, told weary residents that they anticipated reimbursing costs for the vast bulk of this proposal through outside grants and/or donations. Yet neither Gaffney nor Zigrest offered any guarantees, in advancing taxpayer financing of this major undertaking.
Resident Virginia Steparra cited erecting the lights as a financial and neighborhood quality-of-life issue.
"We're right on the park. We've lived near the park for 25 years," the senior citizen pointed out. "I know these lights are made to make daylight. That is their job, and you can see them from a couple of blocks away."
Additionally, Steparra said all Maywoodians need a bit of a financial breather now that the council is finishing building the beleaguered and massive "John A. Steuert Municipal Complex."
John Shanahan, a resident who has studied the councl'ls financing of the entire undertaking, has said the final price tag for this big-ticket item could exceed $9 million (including site preparation work), far greater than earlier estimates. The final impact on the taxpayer has yet to be estimated.
"Maywood's spread so thin, we have all these things going on," said Steparra. "Maybe we can talk about (the lights' installation) at another time."
Resident Joe Gianono harped on the ultimate impact the entire bond measure would have on the taxpayer, in light of the fact that school and municipal taxes are constantly going up.
In alluding to the messy borough hall project, the resident expressed concern over continually increasing the municipality's indebtedness .- that ultimately adds to the tax burden.
Gianono suggested that, spending funds on (what he alleged are) non-essential items like the youth league lights, shows the council is catering to special interests at the expense of many more hard-working taxpayers.
"I don't know who you are representing, but I do know that you're not representing the majority of the taxpayers," he charged. "The bottom line is: this town cannot afford any more debt. I don't think so."
Yet Jerry Holmes and Tom Freeman, volunteers with the MYAA, asserted that the lights are vitally important to maintaining a quality program.
Freeman, for instance, said the leagues have to schedule many more night games out of town since many of Maywood's neighbors have lights erected at youth facilities - giving them greater flexibility with scheduling.
"We have over 500 children and we're trying to provide sports for them in this town," said Freeman, claiming that the fall soccer program is most seriously impacted without lights. "With our soccer program, it's very hard to put the contests on once the time changes (from daylight savings back to standard time)."
Petrie, the lone dissenter, sided with those calling for greater frugality.
"We're currently seeing a level of debt not seen before in this community," said the young second-year councilman, insisting that he would have no problem backing the emergency-related items - if there was a better way to finance them.
"We're in dire circumstances in this community," Petrie added. "We are facing circumstances we've not seen before. The way this ordinance was structured does not make sense to me."
Yet Petrie's GOP colleague, Zigrest, disagreed. Making the assumption that Maywood will be reimbursed for about "90 percent" of the lights' costs, he claimed that the borough's portion will reach "about $25,000."
"It's not a lot of money," he told the audience.
For years, securing the lights has been Eustace's major priority. He said the money serves a good purpose, compared to what, he contended was, money wasted on the new municipal complex.
Additionally, he said having local night games will let the children play more games in town, increasing convenience for them and their parents.
"I do have children in the program ... and I see a tremendous amount of benefit from it," said Eustace, an MYAA member.
.
.



. . .







MAYWOOD'S TORTURED BUILDING SAGA NEARING END?
Terhune says "John A. Steuert" site could open in January 2003

By Chris Neidenberg

It has been in the works for well over two years now, and Borough Administrator Jack Terhune said he is hopeful that the municipality can finally transition into the troubled "John A. Steuert Jr. Municipal Complex" by early January.

At the Borough Council's Nov. 20 meeting, Terhune announced that contractor GRE Construction of Parlin is putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the three-story Park Avenue building, and that he (Terhune) is developing a "phased" plan for moving borough offices, the police department and municipal court, now in three separate locations, to the site.

Once GRE finishes the "site work" around the new bullding, he told the council, the municipality can then focus on moving inside during December.

Thus, sometime in January, the municipality hopes to complete a historic and controversial move that will take the council and borough offices out of their current Trinka Hall quarters they have occupied, in the basement of the Maywood Public Library at 459 Maywood Ave., since the mid to late 1960s.

"We currently hope to be in the facility by year's end or next year, phasing it in," explained the administrator.

"We want to first move the police into the new municipal offices, and then the borough offices (at 459 Maywood Ave.) after that," Terhune added.

For about the past two years, police have operated in a temporary modual structure on the parking lot of the former public safety building (the new complex will replace) at 15 Park Ave. For the same period, the court has convened in the Maywood Senior Citizens and Recreation Center on Magnolia Lane, while the court administrator's office is being housed in the old council agenda room, in the current Borough Hall basement.

Executing the full plan next year will also end many months of makeshift operations for the Maywood Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Protection Hook and Ladder and Undyne fire companies. All were once stationed with police at 15 Park .The original police building opened im 1915.

The new firehouse is expected to feature a bay big enough to house a large ladder truck bought eight years ago, which could not fit into the old station, and had to park elsewhere,

The new building will feature a bigger and ultra-modern police department containing a sallyport, municipal and court offices, and a new council chambers on the third floor. The upper floors can be acceseed via elevator, making the site handicap-accessible, and the building will have a bigger parking lot

Once the council and municipal offices vacate their existing locations, this space will be turned over to the library (established at the current site in 1965) for a future expansion.

Yet this grand building expansion doesn't come without a hefty price tag for the taxpayers, and a good deal of mysterious political intrigue involving Maywood's Democratic and Republicsn elected officials..

In fact, Democratic Councilman Thomas Richards and Republican Councilman Thomas Gaffney have stated that Maywood must launch a serious investigation into how the whole affair was handled - after all the dust literally settles following next year's expected groundbreaking (for more on this convoluted project's history, please read, "Candidates Urge Probe of Building Mess")..

The project, started by the now-bankrupt Monument Contracting of Newark, has run into lengthy delays. In fact, now-former Borough Administrator John Perkins once said he expected the building would be ready for occupation by early 2001 (that is, before plans radically changed).

John Shanahan, a Jersey Avenue resident who is seriously studying Maywood's handling of this problem-plagued construction effort, has said he believes the entire job (including the cost of tearing down the older buildings) will wind up costing roughly $9.5 million.

Shanahan, in tandem with borough developer George Haag, is examining cost overruns associated with the new site.

At one time. now-former Democratic Mayor Thomas Murphy - focusing on a less ambitious plan tailored to just renovating the old fire and ambulance sites - promised taxpayes while in office that the project would not exceed $2.5 million.

Former Borough Attorney William Rupp and a Ft. Lee construction company, the latter hired in 2000 to provide a clerk pf the works now overseeing the project, are investigating and keeping track of the overruns via providing periodic reports to the governing body.

STATE FORCES COUNCIL TO LET PUBLIC SPEAK
Only allows minimum time for work session comments

By Chris Neidenberg

The Borough Council, moving only because the state ordered it to, has amended its by-laws so citizens can address the body during work sessions.

Yet at its September meeting, Republican Mayor Wayne Kuss made clear the effort to bring more "sunshine" to these proceedings - and make them more constituent friendly - was not on the council's initiative.

Additionally, Kuss made clear that any person wishing to address the council those evenings will only receive the minimum time the law requires...

Kuss explained that, under a new state law Gov. James McGreevey signed, New Jersey's 567 municipalities must open the meetings - which differ from regular or special meetings - to public comment.

"There is a change in the (state's) Open Public Meetings Act," the mayor pointed out. "Previously, the meetings of work sessions were allowed to be just that. They (the public) were not alllowed to speak.

"No person will be allowed to speak in excess of five minutes, unless by a majority vote of the mayor and council," Kuss added.

Thus, during the four work meetings held since that time (through Nov. 20), the council has added a "hearing of citizens" section - as is custom at regular meetings.

Doing so returns the governing body to a mode in effect for at least part of the tenure of the late former Mayor John Steuert.

Using discretion, Steuert did open work sessions to public comments at the end of the often lengthy proceedings - drawing occasional criticism from some council members - who complained that he let some residents speak for far too long - adding unnecessary time to those meetings.

Steuert's successor, Mayor Thomas Murphy, discontinued this practice in 1996. Kuss continued Murphy's policy for almost the last three years - until the state forced the reluctant mayor - and mayors in many other municipalities - to relent.

Wotk sessions, also known in some municipalities as "workshops" or "caucuses," differ from regular public meetings in that votes on adopting or introducing ordinances (without prior legal notice) are not supposed to be taken..The council can, on occasion, schedule special meetings during the work sessions to take such votes - provided they are advertised as per law.

Before the new law, governing bodies could - but did not have to - open work sessions to public comments. In Fair Lawn, the council in 2001 (beating the state law by about a year) started opening all scheduled work sessions to residents. They must sign up in advance.

These meetings are usually reserved for setting the agendas of the regular meetings, or discusssing borough policies and procedures in depth. Thus, at least in Maywood, they tend to run much longer than so-called "action" sessions.

At times, these sessions (starting at 7:30 p.m.) run over four hours. They can be lengthened if the council - a common practice in Maywood - opts to hold "closed" legal or personnel sessions in the middle (rather than the end) of such meetings - forcing some residents to wait in the hallway for extended periods.

The forced opening of work meetings comes as Maywood's officials took prior steps to significantly limit public involvement, starting with Murphy,.in 1996.

At that time, in addition to shutting the public out from speaking at work sessions, Murphy swayed council members to lower the number of annual "action" meetings - where citizens have always been allowed to speak. This move effected a radical change in the council's calendar following a longstanding tradition.

Citing the need to cut costs, Murphy got the council to trim yearly regular meetings (excluding reorganizations) from 22 to 12. It approved holding only one monthly meeting (previously done during July and August) all year.

Yet the council did not similarly reduce scheduled work sessions used in setting the regular meeting agendas.

It still holds 22 such forums (not including the 45-minute "mini-work sessions" conducted before each regular meeting) - for 12 regular meetings.

This contrasts to a town like Wood-Ridge, which, while traditionally holding only one regular monthly meeting, needs only one work session for setting the agenda.

In defending the five-minute limit - actually also allotted (though not always enforced) at regular meetings - Kuss said the work sessions are already long enough.

."The reason why we're going to enforce the five-minute rule, as those of you who keep hours know, is that the meetings often go from 12 midnight to one o'clock," he said.

PB OKAY ON EXPANDING FOOD STORE RAISES QUEONS Single alleges board's Maywood Market dealings are suspicio

By Chris Neidenberg

In the wake of the Planning/Zoning Board's approval to replace residential with even more commercial development near the Maywood Market Place site, records and the time line leading to the decision raise questions over why some Maywood officials worked cooperatively for so long with the developer in preparing the plan - before submitting it to the board.

If he proceeds with his plans, a wealthy New York developer will destroy two structurally sound homes on West Passaic Street. Citing the price of progress, he will replace green lawns with more concrete to develop a much bigger parking lot for Maywood Market Place. All this, under terms of a resolution Planning/Zoning Board members earlier approved.

Market owner Nickolas Katapoudis of Manhasset, L..I. has been authorized to expand the current lot between Palmer and Bergen avenues by destroying two currently-occupied houses his silent partnership owns at 89 and 95 West Passaic (the latter also houses a second unit in the back at 520 Palmer). If the full plan is implemented, the lot will be increased from about 25 to over 70 spaces.

Katapoudis heads MNK Development Corporation, a partnership which owns the homes, and he also owns Maywood Market Place. The store's building is owned and managed by an entity called Jay Zee Realty. All three entities have been mentioned during the hearings as partners in this enterprise. Yet Secaucus attorney Alan Magrini, who represented two objectors, complained that Katapoudis was quite vague about who comprises the different partnerships, and the roles each group played in their efforts at securing the development.

The store plans on doing much more than just expanding the lot. Under the resolution, which the board unanimously memprialized Sept. 10, the store will add a precedent-setting second story along West Pleasant Avenue, add an entrance on West Pleasant, increase selling floor space, and enlarge a kitchen in helping its catering business.

Memorializing the resolution were Chairman George Brush, Vice Chairwoman Charlotte Panny, and Robert Tarleton, George Georgeou, Frank Lichtenberger, David Pegg and Harry Hillenius.

None of the members supporting this expansion at the time offered any kind of statement on just how the bigger lot and store will improve Maywood's quality of life.

Aside from just addressing a technical point on increasing room for vehicles entering and exiting the lot, these members quietly OK'd the expansion.

Board Member Alfred Ballerini, who did not participate Sept. 10, opposed ratification during an earlier preliminary vote. He said he did not see how enlarging the Market's catering business "expands commerce" throughout Maywood.

In taking a second vote, the board officially ratified a 26-page resolution spelling out the plan Oct. 2.

"The politicians and the Planning Board betrayed the community as ususal," complained Lillian Single, coordinator of the Alliance tto Protect Maywood, a witness to the proceedings. "As we've seen time and rime again, they cater to the big-money developers at the expense of the people who make their homes here."

She insisted, "The board's decision to add a second story on West Pleasant for warehouse storage sets a very dangerous precedent that opens the street up for other big-money developers, who will demand second stories in any big commercial developments they might try proposing.in the future."

During the hearings, Single showed pictures of Katapoudis' own affluent Manhasset neighborhood, replete with what she termed "million-dollar homes" and near at least one golf course. Comparing this area to the Market's more modest neighborhood, a skeptical Single said she seriously doubted Katapoudis would support the same kind of development right near his home.

The resident, citing correspondence between Market representatives and "the building inspector (Joe Mellone), board attorney (Greg Padavano) board secretary (Mary Carton) and others (certain members of the governing body)," maintained that there were "secretive hand in hand dealings involving the parties for approximately a year" before any public hearings commenced (May 14).

Single said that, while she started receiving correspondence on the case beginning in October of 2001, she was aware of prior communication between the parties well before then - but was only given all new correspondence starting that October. Single also cited an ongoing dialogue between Katapoudis and some Maywood elected officials, regarding his parking lot proposal, well before the hearing.

"When does cooperation between the board and the applicant end, and collusion begin?" Single asked.

Single, while not against letting the Market expand at the ground level on West Pleasant, insisted that the board's agreeing to destroy the two homes for a bigger lot and allowing erection of a second floor is simply bad public policy. She complained that the move continues a significant encroachment upon residential areas with unwise commercial development.

She cited as other examples knocking down homes on Maywood Avenue to allow a Duane Reade drugstore, after critical residents complained it seemed clear the borough let the homes become run down through lax code enforcement, as well as establoshing the Commerce Bank between West Pleasant Avenue and West Passaic Street. In that case, critics complained, the governing body simply gave away valuable real estate to the bank in granting easements - when placing the property up for public sale could have netted the municipality badly-needed revenue.

In approving the Maywood Market measure, the board backed changing current residential (R-!) zones now featuring the three dwellings into restricted commercial (RC) zones, and a subdivision that combines two separate residential lots at 89 West Passaic and 520 Palmer, into one.

Maywood Market's initial plan encompassed about 37,000 square feet.Yet since the board opted only to approve the first phase of an original two-phase plan, the project's original scope could be impacted. MNK ultimately agreed to withdraw this second phase for possible consideration at a later time.

After much resistance, Brush reluctantly agreed to support reopening the public hearing on Sept. 10 at Magrini's repeated insistence, during which time the parties further discussed ways of trying to make the expansion more tolerable for the surrounding residents.

Hynes and Garrett agreed to work with Magrini on trying to save a tree in the area, that falls within the region of the planned expansion, so the residents will have a better buffer separating them from the enlarged parking lot.

Concerns were also voiced over the impact night lighting could have on the residences. Brush assured Magrini that the board addressed the concerns.in lowering the height of the stantions, originally set at 20 feet.

"The lights will be 16 feet (in height) with no spillage onto the adjacent properties" the chairrman told Magrini.

"We've made a lot of suggestions (for revisions) on it, and I think they're good ones." insisted Brush.

Yet earlier during the proceedings, Brush blasted Katapoudis in alleging that he inserted many changes in the proposal, that were not previously discussed in preliminary discussions between the parties.

Brush backed the plan, even though he earlier raised fears in a memo that expanding the lot could lead to an increase in traffic in the West Passaic/Palmer area, and that destroying the two residential ratables could cause a dip in tax revenues.

No traffic expert ever testified before the board, even though Board Attorney Greg Padavano contended that its members properly examined the issue.

In supporting bigger store, PB chairman admitted Market is "a bad neighbor"

Brush also led the chorus after admitting that the Market has been a terrible neighbor to residents in abutting homes off Bergen and Palmer avenues.

One resident, Victor Papparazzo, provided evidence that the Market violated an existing agreement with the board on store upkeep and maintenance, in seeking earlier approvals to help the business. Even Katapoudis' lawyer, Thomas Hynes of Maywood, did not dispute complaints that the store has left the grounds unkempt - in violation of its prior agreement.

"Could they be a little neater? Probably," the lawyer told the board during a June meeting.

In acknowledging that the store broke prior commitments, Brush simply admonished Maywood Market to be "a better neighbor," but rejected using the business' questionable conduct as a rationale for denying the expansion.

During four months of hearings, Katapoudis' representatives - Hynes and consultant Anthony Garrett of the Bilow group in Ridgefield Park - apparently managed to sway the board that enlarging the store would ultimately benefit the community. They maintained that Maywood will benefit in stimulating greater area economic activity, and in promoting the other businesses (by encouraging Market shoppers to use the other stores), even if the expansion increases traffic congestion.

And while Maywood Market has cited the larger store as a potential anchor which will help increase business in the smaller surrounding shops, Katapoudis has not ruled out in the future evicting some of these smaller West Pleasant merchants adjacent to him - occupying storefronts he owns - to further enlarge his store.

Board wanted the bigger parking lot even more than Maywood Market's owner, who said it was "non-essential" to his store's success

In an ironic twist, those on the board backing almost tripling the parking lot wanted the plan even more than the store's owner.

During the very first meeting on May 14, Katapoudis told the board the bigger lot's only purpose was to make parking more convenient for his own customers. He also stated that his business would in no way suffer without it.

"It's not as though we would be out of business if we didn't have it,(bigger parking lot)," Katapoudis told the board then. "But we'd like to have more space for our clientele."

In giving his stamp of approval, Hillenius said the bigger lot is needed because "Maywood needs more parking," implying that the larger facility could perhaps be used to partially accomodate all shoppers in the business district following negotiations with the governing body. Yet he offered this premise even as the store's attorney insisted that Katapoudis wants to keep any expanded facility all for himself.

The council has designated the West Pleasant region a "Special Improvement District (SID)" This act makes the area eligible for certain state programs promoting business development. The district is managed by a corporation which includes all council members, some of whom earlier met with Katapoudis - before his application even went before the board.

Brush, however, said the business, based on his understanding, wants to keep the lot entirely for itself. Katapoudis told the board during the first night of hearings that he did discuss this issue with some unidentified members of the governing body -- without reaching any agreement.

Conradictions abound as to if Maywood's Borough Council will try forcing taxpayers to help finance the Market's parking expansion costs

Even as Brush and Hynes have stated Maywood Market will not enter into negotiations with the borough on sharing (and helping to pay for) an expanded parking lot, statements from Republican Mayor Wayne Kuss and Democratic Councilman Dr. Tim Eustace seem to leave the door open to that possibility.

Kuss stated during a July council meeting that the borough was interested in talking with Katapoudis - even after Hynes promised the board one month earlier that taxpayers will not pay "one penny" for any work done in expanding the facility.

At the same council meeting, Eustace - a booster of sharing costs to help Maywood's parking situation if such plans are workable - would only say negotiations were not ongoing at that time (late July).

Single, a West Passaic resident and member of the SID District Management Corporation's Project Planning Committee, cited comments contained in minutes of the corporation's June meeting. They noted that Chief Financial Officer Charles Cuccia was asked in a letter - from unidentified officials - to explore "the legality" of sharing some of Katapoudis' costs.

Citing discussions among corporation members, Single said those costs could include having borough taxpayers help finance demolishing the two houses, helping write off Katapoudis' losses via buying the two structures from MNK before being destroyed, and paying some costs in establishing and maintaining the bigger parking site.

In return, the borough would get to share use of the bigger parking facility by having part of the site allocated for all shoppers, not just Market customers. Those supporting such negotiations, including Eustace, president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce, see it as a way to alleviate parking congestion on streets in the region.

Single complained that the board did not properly evaluate the application before supporting it, and further questioned whether the proposal earned the go-ahead from the municipality- months before the board actually approved it.

Questionable behavior by the board, and the applicant, documented:

A. The applicant's failing to notify all property owners within 200 feet of the proposal that the public hearings were to start on Feb. 26, at least 10 days before that evening (Feb. 16), after Zoning Officer Mellone announced setting a start date in correspondence. Single cited N.J.S.A. 40: 5-5-01 requiring this. The hearings did not officially begin for about another three months (May 14).

B. The refusal by Maywood Market's lawyer (Hynes) to disclose the names of the other shareholders in Katapoudis' various partnerships, as well as the applicant's declining to disclose phone numbers or addresses for either MNK Development Corporation or Jay Zee Realty. Board Chairman Brush ruled in Hynes' favor, saying the public had no right to know this information.

C. Single pointed out that, all during the hearings, Brush seemingly afforded the applicant's reps ample time to raise their points, but when she tried to speak, was put on a strict time clock. She asserted that it seemed Brush showed "all the patience in the world" in letting the store's representatives address the board, while trying "to squelch" her efforts at refuting the applicant's points.


























 
RICHARDS, GAFFNEY KNEW FEDS HID THORIUM PLAN
Both repeatedly refused to address residents' concerns in area

By Chris Neidenberg

While both now insist that they back "up and out" in solving the borough's over two-decades old thorium dilemma, Borough Council candidates Thomas Richards and Thomas Gaffney were part of a governing body culture which simply refused to respond to residents' repeated concerns over the federal government's eight-year stall in releasing a proposed thorium cleanup plan.
Documents conclusively prove that the federal government - as led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) , Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), simply sat on releasing a cleanup plan affecting roughly 300,000 cubic yards of toxic thorium-tainted soil under borough properties.
This was the case even after a state Department of Health study done for the feds' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in 1997, concluded that there were increased brain cancer incidences among women living near the site.
Richards and Gaffney - with long tenures in either municipal appointed or elected positions that have examined the issue - were well aware of this.
Richards first joined the council in 1975 and has been on and off it ever since, losing twice in mayoral contests to the late former Republican Mayor John Steuert along the way. Gaffney has served continuously since 1994.
During much of their tenures, the two joined others on the council in supporting permitting federal authorities to use the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) as a base in cleaning up sites in Lodi and Rochelle Park - along with a small smattering of borough residential properties thrown into the mix.
They went along with this program - even as the feds' continued hiding most of Maywood's own cleanup plan.
Richards and Gaffney kept backing this policy after the U.S. government rescinded its promise to release one complete proposed plan addressing the entire site.
The feds themselves once cited the Superfund law as requiring this, but, in a rather curious switch, ultimately decided applying this rule only to the smaller, first phase of the program (primarily residential) - in which Maywood had little stake.
While critics long argued during council meetings that this strategy could ultimately weaken the community's bargaining position in getting a permanent cleanup, Richards and Gaffney - while stating little on this topic publicly - rejected this view.
Both men have cited their benevolence in opening Maywood to taking toxic waste from Lodi residential properties on humanitarian grounds, since Lodi residents were living above contamination. Richards repeated this position during an Oct. 28 candidates forum at Borough Hall.
Yet neither have ever considered - or, at least in public - explained this rationale in light of the fact that the feds also prioritized cleaning up (ahead of many Lodi homes) the Ballod Associates vacant commercially-zoned property in Rochelle Park - a tract once owned by major Bergen County Republican bigwigs J. Fletcher Creamer and former county GOP Chairman John Schepisi, as well as Moses Sternlieb.
Richards, on the council in the 1980s as the early sites were being cleaned up, insisted that tbe borough needed to show concern for residents living in the Lodi homes. Yet about 32,000 of the 35,000 cubic yards in the initial MISS pile came from the Ballod commercial site.. The state described this property in one report as an "abandoned chemical dump."
Schepisi, Sternlieb and Creamer ultimately sold this property to developers who built the Bristol Manor Nursing Home. And it was Richards' biggest ally at the time, then-Congressman Robert Torricelli - who urged the feds to help the three Ballod owners by cleaning up this site before the "next construction season."
These three men retained ownership of another piece of the original Ballod site that the corps.only cleaned up recently.
Gaffney, an unsuccessful 2001 Republican state assembly candidate, in defending his stance on allowing the Lodi cleanup to proceed, has simply stated he was not around when the initial Ballod decision was made.
And in hearing the two veteran councilmen speak during the corps' Aug. 28 public hearing on the proposed plan, one might conclude both all along served as ardent champions of a cause supporting the complete cleanup of toxic waste largely generated through the years by Maywood Chemical Works and Stepan Chemical Company.
That is far from the case.
In fact, both lagged far behind The Concerned Citizens of Maywood, which consistently advocated an "up and out" strategy in removing the problem at repeated council meetings - while the two officials either said little or nothing in response.

Richards and Gaffney on thorium in the past
Perhaps no currrent local elected official has more of a questionable history related to the issue than Richards, The 18-year council veteran also had considerable say in framing the municipality's positions while off the council as chairman of Maywood's mysterious and former Environmental Legislative Action Committee (ELAC).
Richards' fingerprints on this issue date back to the problem's rather curious beginnings in 1983-84, around the time the federal government tried fingering Stepan Chemical Company as the "potentially responsible party (PRP)" for area low-level radioactive waste.
He supported Torricelli's later efforts to switch financial liability for the radiological portion of the problem, from the then-congressman's future Democratic campaign donor, to the taxpayers.
In defending this strategy during the Oct. 28 forum, Richards again asserted that, despite the EPA's 1983 directive citing Stepan and Stepan division Maywood Chemical Works as liable for the thorium cleanup via Superfund, the taxpayers have rightfully shouldered this burden.
He asserted that the federal government caused the problem even though records show Maywood Chemical never produced thorium under a federal government contract. Superfund clearly holds current site operators liable for assuming the financial liabilities and assets of their predecessors. though PRPs can try disputing any government claims in litigation.
Richards further defended the controversial "memorandum of understanding," negotiated in the early 1980s by then Borough Attorney William Rupp. He claimed in 1986 that the deal - which created the DOE-owned MISS - served as "a shield" in preventing the U.S. government from trucking in radioactive waste from other areas of New Jersey.
One thing is clear. Once the EPA put the heat on Stepan to pay up for thorium under Superfund, Torricelli, Rupp and Richards tried shiifting the blame and focus to the federal government.
Ever since, Richards and Maywood Democrats have insisted that the borough's progress in cleaning up radioactive waste must be solely dependent upon federal funds.
In 1983, they succeeded in halting the EPA's enforcement actions via transferring liability for thorium (though not chemical) pollution to the feds by bringing the DOE into the project. Torricelli, who recently ended his 2002 U.S. Senate re-election bid over ethics woes, denied that his actions were linked to company President F. Quinn Stepan's later campaign donations.
Richards has been an ardent defender of Steoan and Torricelli throughout his tenure' Citing principle, he has refused to consider the possibility (raised in a 1997 army corps report) of trying to secure more of Stepan's funds in helping remove thorium from his community.
Thus, if re-elected, Richards will likely keep supporting efforts to sustain the "DOE-Stepan" agreement Torricelli initally negotiated. At the Oct.28 forum, the councilman said he will keep seeking federal monies in cleaning up all the site's radioactive waste.
Richards now says he wants thorium from all borough sites excavated and disposed into a permanent storage facility - without using unproven treatment merhods, He.also supports a mandated "unrestricted use" level of five picocuries per gram (pcI/g). To help achieve this, he has proposed putting a park on the current Sears Distribution Center property when cleaned up.
Yet the councilman sang a much different tune in 1994 as a private citizen,
During a DOE information session at Maywood Avenue School, he maintained that the Sears area merited cleanup - as a commercial property - to a lower standard. He endorsed using the DOE's proposed "soil washing" treatment program in doing it. Even as the DOE's tests could not prove the process could attain an unrestricted use criteria of 5 pcI/g, Richards said he thought the process could "suck up" the added waste and reach the lower level.
In addition, Richards, as either ELAC chairman or councilman:
A. Told the Concerned Citizens group, in 1995, that ELAC did not have to hear residents' comments.
B. Offered no progress reports, as ELAC chairman, on the thorium issue over a roughly three-year period.
C. Participated in a secretive meeting with federal and state elected officials on Oct. 22, 2000 to witness the army corps' pilot soil separation program, which now-former Boroigh Administrator John Perkins assured, would be closed to the press and public.
D. Served as an open advocate for the DOE, as it kept concealing the proposed plan from Maywood residents, in serving on a DOE Remedy Solution committee while ELAC chairman in 1995.
E. Tried passing off ELAC as an official "environmental commission" in obtaining state tree-related funds, when it did not meet a state statute.
F. Knew of the federal cancer incidence study, as ELAC chairman, over two years before the state publicized it and kept the report under seal.
Gaffney, like Richards, has asserted that Maywood is esentially a prisoner to the federal government, under the arrangements Torricelli and Rupp earlier negotiated.
For instance, in 2000, he said there was nothing the borough could do to stop the corps from implementing the pilot soil separation prgram afrer residents demanded that the council act swiftly in stopping the corps.
Yet Gaffney has held a more consistent position than Richards in advocating that the entire town get an unrestricted use cleanup. The councilman has also said he would support any government effort which gets more thorium cleanup funding from Stepan - if it expedites the cleanup.
Richards and Gaffney on thorium in the present
The candidates, at the Aug, 28 corps hearing and the Oct. 28 forum, insisted that mandating "up and out" is now the only option.
"Now this 15 picocuries (per gram) comes into the picture," Gaffney complained during the corps' hearing. "I don't think you're really listening to us, I really don't.
"I want you to take it up with whoever are the powers that be and emphasize to whoever are the powers that be, this is what we want: 'Up and out," Gaffney told corps Site Manager Allen Roos. "That is what we want. That is what we asked for."
Richards agreed. He demanded, "5 pcI/g, nothing else."
"If you can clean up commercial properties in Lodi to 5 pcI/g, why can't you clean up Maywood's commercial properties to 5 pcI/g?" Richards asked Roos, referring to the unrestricted use criteria.
He added that it seems clear treatment schemes, such as separation, cannot meet the standard.
"Absent 100-percent concrete proof that it works, we will not suppport you," he vowed, demanding that the corps take "a different route."

LAUTENBERG NEVER BACKED FULL THORIUM CLEANUP
Wanted 15 pcI/g for Maywood, was silent on Stepan liability

New Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Framk Lautenberg once hailed a federal government plan to clean vast amounts of thorium-tainted soil to levels that will not permanently clean up Maywood, according to statements he issued when a 1994 draft cleanup plan was unveiled.

In fact, in a 1994 press release titled, "Guidelines to Be Set by EPA, Lautenberg Applauds Action, Says Wayne/Maywood Sites on Road to Cleanup," the candidate praised a U.S. government decision to clean most of Maywood's radioactive waste to levels not exceeding 15 picocuries per gram (pcI/g).

This criteria is now heavily opposed by governing body members, including Lautenberg's fellow Democtrat, Councilman,Thomas Richards, and those residents speaking at an Aug. 28 public hearing on the proposed plan.

Lautenberg praised an original decision to try implementing this unpopular criteria eight years ago, calling it "good news."

Yet the controversial decision, blasted by critics, followed protracted negotations, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried resisting the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) drive to implement the lower cleanup threshold. That is, until a joint EPA-DOE dispute resolution committee settled on it.

But during the dispute, two EPA officials, in pleading Maywood's case, warned using 15 pcI/g could designate the borough as "a permanent storage site."

Those opposed to the final outcome with the Concerned Citizens of Maywood blasted the EPA's acquiesence as " a cave-in." to DOE pressure.

In facr, the 1994 decision Lautenberg wanted was originally opposed by the state Department of Environmental Protection. It maintained that the standard was not in accordance with New Jersey regulations.

This opposition triggered a further delay, and no plan was offficially unveiled for another eight years.

"This is finally good news for the residents in Maywood and Wayne," the former senator stated in his 1994 release. "Now we can move forward with the cleanups."

In the release, Lautenberg endorsed a proposal to clean the Phase II (commercial and government-owned sites) in Maywood "to 15 pcI/g above background level, with an 'as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA)' goal of 5 pcI/g."

Yet use of ALARA does not guarantee a permanent cleanup.

Under its current proposal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still wants to clean up about 90 percent of the municipality's remaining targeted waste (some 220,000 cubic yards) to this less stringent criteria - even after eight years of delay.

The corps asserts this level is protective under current land use, and complies with existing state law, which would supersede any prior New Jersey regulations.

The corps is now under pressure from officials and residents to ditch ALARA and mandate the much tighter criteria - a permanent cleanup level of 5 pcI/g throughout the entire site.

Lautenbeeg, a former three-term incumbent, replaced Senator Robert Torricelli following Torrricelli's sudden wirhdrawal from the 2002 contest over ethical transgressions.

He is now running campaign attack ads against Republican opponent Douglas Forrester by maintaining he supports making "polluters" pay in cleaning up Superfund sites, while Forrester does not.

During a Sept. 6 site visit, Forrester blasted Torricelli's Maywood dealings, and insisted that he wants all of Maywood's contamination removed from the community.

Torricelli and Lautenberg have remained silent on whether Torricelli's campaign donor - and Maywood's worst polluter - Stepan Chemical Company, should now shoulder liability for paying to clean up thorium and chemical contamination. Much of this waste is mixed.

The corps, however, has not ruled out trying to recover even more monies from Stepan in expediting the thorium part of the cleanup.

If that happens, and the dreaded 15 pcI/g criteria sticks, Stepan would likely save a lot of money - and much of the tainted soil will be left on site.

Additionally, the federal government could remain in Maywood for many more years in monitoring future land use at the affected sites - even after the estimated six -year time frame it says it needs in using the lesser crriteria to clean up.

Maywood's toxic waste was largely generated by either Stepan or the predecessor company it inherited and incorporated as a division of the Northfield, Ill. company, Maywood Chemical Works.

Stepan subsequently profited handsomely in the 1960s by selling much of Maywood Chemical's old polluted plant grounds to other businesses which came into the borough. These sites are now occupied by companies including DeSaussure Engineering, the Sears Distribution Center and Federal Express.

Thus far, Stepan, under an agreement Torricelli helped arrange, will only have to pay for cleaning up chemicals.

Torricelli's "DOE-Stepan agreement" came into play shortly after the EPA's Lawrence Diamond informed Stepan executive John O'Brien that it was designated a "potential responsible party (PRP)" for "radioactive contamination."

Diamond maintained that Stepan was a rightful PRP, since the Superfund law holds current site owners liable for any waste their predecessors generated.

Yet ultimately, Torricelli, Maywood's Ninth District congressman at the time, secured passage of legislation in 1983 making the federal government and its taxpayers financially liable as the PRP - for all radiological contamination.

This overrode Diamond's earlier enforcement action against Stepan on thorium pollution (though not chemicals) ,and remains in effect to this day.

Thorium cleanup liability was then assigned to the DOE and its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. The corps replaced the DOE as the lead agency in 1997.

Angela Carpenter, the EPA's project manager, stated in 1995 that Torricelli's moves complicated the borough's cleanup picture via adding another layer of bureaucracy (the DOE) into the mix.

She said that, prior to this act, Maywood was "a garden variety Superfund site." Years earlier. Torricelli maintained the move was necessary to avoid litigation, which could delay the program. After shifting liability from Stepan to the government, Torricelli drew criticism for subsequently receiving repeated campaign donations from Stepan's president, F. Quinn Stepan - a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

Thus, had Torricelli never acted, Stepan and its West Humter Avenue plant would be financially liable for cleaning up thorium and chemicals - under one project - throughout the entire site.

The federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds in Maywood since Torricell]s agreement..

Yet Lautenberg and Torricelli took a much different stance at another FUSRAP/Superfund site in nearby Wayne.

They aggressively called for the U.S. Department of Justice to recover additional cleanup monies in remediating thorium and chemicals at the smaller WR Grace and Company site in 1999. The corps is cleaning up this site's thorium to a tighter criteria than it wants applied within Maywood.

In fact, Torricelli maintained that the feds were improperly subsidizing Grace's costs, even while he continued backing having the taxpayers subsidize his campaign donor's (Stepan's) own costs - under a deal he helped negotiate,

COUNCIL WON''T PUBLICLY VOTE ON CORPS' THORIUM PLAN
But Kuss, Fede will send agency letters as to borough's position

By Chris Neidenberg

Though it had two chances to publicly do so, the Borough Council declined to vote on any resolution concerning the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' massive proposed thorium cleanup plan.

At the council's Oct. 23 meeting, Mayor Wayne Kuss told resident Michael Nolan, environmental chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Maywood, that the governing body's view on this profpund decision will be found in letters the mayor and Borough Attorney Andrew Fede prepared.

The feds recently extended the term of a public comment period on the plan, as requested, from Oct. 12 to Nov. 11

"I'd like to know if the borough has issued any kind of comments on the proposed plan," asked Nolan, who urged the borough to shut down its borders to any additional outside contamination - unless 5 pcI'/g is guaranteed for Maywood in the record of decision.

"We did it (took a stand) collectively,'" the mayor replied. "Andrew (Fede) did it (borough's letter) as a body."

The mayor added that he has sent his own letter.

But in forming any position, the council would likely have had some kind of collective discussion somewhere...

The council also held a regular public meeting Sept. 25 but did not post a resolution on the issue. Thus, it held twlo public meetings since the corps' Aug. 28 public hearing without taking any public vote.

At that hearing, Councilmen Thomas Richards, Thomas Gaffney and James Petrie said they would oppose any corps plan imposing a cleanup criteria of 15 picocuries per gram at any site in the municipality, and will try forcing use of a definitive "unrestricted use" criteria of 5 pcI/g.

Richards and Gaffney raised the possibility of doing this via imposing land use changes, such as zoning a park use near the Sears Distribution Center site.

By not posting a resolution, Councilpersons Dr. Tim Eustace, Fred Zigrest and Jeannie Matullo do not have to take an official stand.

The council's decision to only send a letter means anyone interested in finding out its official position, on how the corps should clean up about 220,000 cubic yards of targeted low-level radioactive waste, will have to request the correspondence from the corps.

Nolan said after his appearance that the council should have posted a public resolution, and given its vote of confidence for taking the waste "up and out."

This is the view that all of the municipality's soil should simply be dug up and carted away, without using any unworkable treatment methods that can't achieve the level.

There is prcedence for a public resolution. In the late 1980s a prior council voted to publicly affirm its support for a state-backed proposal known as "the Utah plan," which called for carting all the soil away to a permanent disposal facility in that state. This plan is similar to what the council and Kuss are expected to request in their letters.

Note: Due to the complexities of the borough's thorium cleanup plan, TRUTH HURTS has decided to present the matter under two separate stories. The first provides an overview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal, as well as historical background on the many events which preceded this significant moment, and have, in fact, impacted it. A second story on the hearing itself, featuring the comments of residents and corps and borough officials, is forthcoming.

CORPS' PROPOSES PARTIAL THORIUM CLEANUP PLAN
Only 12 percent of targeted waste would see final cleanup

By Chris Neidenberg

Residents and municipal officials denounced a U.S. Army Corps of Engiineers plan to only permanently clean up a small fraction of about 220,000 cubic yards of low-level radioactive waste in their community buried under commerical properties. They spoke during a long-awaited public hearing on the proposal, held Aug. 28 in Borough Hall.

The federal government has delayed releasing this plan for at least the last eight years. The process, undertaken by the corps and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has been criticized in correspondence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as needlessly prolonged. Even though the EPA has an oversight role in the process, the agency was apparently powerless to help the community by compelling a shorter time frame.

The corps, which says its proposal is based on an objective review of current land use, and complies with New Jersey law, only subjects 26,380 of a total of 220,379 cubic yards to a permanent cleanup level. Some EPA officials once claimed this level should be applied to the entire site, because it would best protect human health and the environment, in a densely populated community. They were overruled. The corps says a state statute allows it to now clean up less.

Additonally, the plan is really incomplete. It does not address chemical soil, as well as chemical and radiological groundwater contamination. These issues have been deferred to a later date.

A written public comment period on the proposal is set to lapse Oct. 12.

Roughly 30 residents and some municipal officials attended. It was preceded by a less formal information session more typical of corps events held locally, since the agency took control of the cleanup from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1997.

The corps put forth various pieces of literature and poster displays which detailed aspects of its proposal, offered a historical overview and explained some of the requirements it must follow in implementing any plan.

Also prominently featured were displays from the Concerned Citizens of Maywood (CCM), which has harshly criticized the U.S. governrnent's efforts over the past 17 years, and protested the government's conduct at the site.

The incomplete plan pertains only to the future cleanup of buried low-level radioactive soil under buildings and property. A plan for addressing any chemical soil and groundwater contamination - outside of the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) - has been worked on - for at least the last 10 years - by Stepan Chemical Company under direct EPA oversight.

Stepan has yet to unveil it. The EPA first issued a unilareral order against Stepan to start a Remedial Investigation Feasibility Study on chemicals, following about four years of protracted negotiations which failed to produce a mutual agreement, in 1991.

Some local Maywood officials, including now-former Democratic Mayor Thomas Murphy, have said they believe the site's chemical pollution poses a far more serious problem.

As for radioactive contaminants in the groundwater, the corps stated in its own proposed plan that it is studying the issue, and will address the matter in the future.

Sites completed, and sites which still need action

Most of Maywood's plan falls under the second phase of the radiological cleanup that targets almost all the affected commercial properties (except one). Borough sites covered in this phase include the federally-owned Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS), Stepan Chemical Company, DeSausssere Engineering, the Sears Distribution Center and Federal Express. Other smaller sites are also affected.

Cleanup of all the affected residential properties in Lodi, Maywood and Rochelle Park, and the Ballod commercial site in Rochelle Park, (Phase I) has been completed. The corps inherited this phased plan from the DOE.

Suddenly, the feds are worried about "cost-effectiveness"

The corps is asserting that using soil separation to treat vast amounts of contamination in place under the larger commercial properties, combined with more limited excavation at smaller sites, is cheaper ($244 million) than excavating and carting away all the soil by applying the more stringent criteria.throughout the entire site ($254 million). Residents addressing the corps during the Aug. 28 hearing argued that this $10 million differential does not justify the agency's decision not to push for the more comprehensive cleanup.

And the more limited corps plan comes after two federal agencies - the corps and the DOE under EPA oversight - spent untold hundreds of millions of dollars more, studying the various sites and cleaning up the residences and the Ballod property in Rochelle Park by moving the soil through Maywood without any proposed plan, over an almost 20-year period.

Two federal contractors, Bechtel National Inc. (DOE) and Stone and Websrer (corps), have been involved all during this time. By refusing to release a proposed plan earlier covering both phases, as once promised, the federal government never had to discuss the cost-effectiveness issue for both the residential/Ballod commercial (Phase I) and commercial (Phase II) properties at the same time.

It is only expressing this concern in the second phase, which will most profoundly impact upon Maywood.

A protracted struggle, years of delay - and political intrigue

The hearing marked a significant milestone in the controversial history of the site, as the federal government - represented by the DOE, the EPA and the corps - seemingly resisted attempts previously to give Maywoodians any extensive input into the cleanup process.

It comes eight years after the EPA pointed out that the DOE was holding up issuing the same proposed plan.

Yet, all during that time, Maywood residents saw their doors open to taking toxic waste from residences in Lodi and the unremediated portion of the Ballod commercial property - as their elected officials showed little interest in finding out what the U.S. government wanted to do with the vast bulk of their own waste (under active commercial properties).

The EPA stated in a 1994 report that the draft proposed plan was on hold due to "community concerns" over a proposal to implement soil washing, a treatment process that - crtiics charged then - would not have resulted in the best possible cleanup asssuring protectiveness.

The corps is essentially pushing the same radioactive waste cleanup criteria sought by the DOE eight years ago.

Five years after the corps took over the project, it has pushed implementing a somewhat similar methodology known as "soll separation," which remains a possible option in its own proposed plan.

This, despite the fact that Allen Roos, the corps' project manager, conceded on Aug. 28 that - just as the DOE before it - the corps has not been able to prove that the process can attain cleanup levels long desired by the community.

And rather than incorporating the cleanup of the non-Maywood properties with all the borough's under one proposed plan regardless of land use (which the DOE was apparently preparing to release as early as 1993), the EPA and DOE decided to abandon that pledge - even as government documents suggested that the Superfind law required one plan. The corps continued this policy upon taking control.

The DOE and EPA instead changed the rules in the middle of the game by piecemealing the remaining properties into two phases - residential/Ballod commercial (which did not use a proposed plan) and all the remaining commercial (which will).

While the bulk of that contamination sits in Maywood, some smaller commercial sites in Lodi, will be addressed. Both Democrats and Republicans on the Maywood governing body rejected repeated complaints from residents that this policy - prioritizing the Lodi residences and Ballod for cleanup at the MISS while letting the feds keep most of Maywood's own plan under seal - ultimately weakened the borough's voice.

The federal government - seemingly oblivious to the criticisms within Maywood despite ample documentation questioning the legality of its actions - moved forward unperturbed.

Now these same federal agencies are trying to convince Maywoodians that they care about their concerns - in executing the final stages of the cleanup

While Maywood's Democrats (led by Councilman Thomas Richards) always made cleaning up the Lodi residential sites their top priority, even if that meant putting Maywood's long-term interests on hold, borough Republicans (which once fought with the Democrats by placing Maywood's concerns first), ultimately joined with the Democrats in prioritizing cleanup of Lodi residences and the Ballod site at the MISS.

While some current Maywood Republicans, like Councilman Thomas Gaffney, have tried to justify prioritizing the Lodi residences out of their concern for people living in the homes, a check of the entire history of the site shows that addressing residenrial tracts over commercial sites was not always the federal government's top priority.

In the mid 1980s, then Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-9) lobbied the DOE to clean up as one of its earliest properties the first portion of the Ballod site, a commercially-zoned property contaminated with thorium and high levels of chemicals.

The state once described this piece as "an abandoned chemical dump." In fact, this comprIsed about 32,000 of the 35,000 cubic yards stored in the pile at




 
RICHARDS, GAFFNEY KNEW FEDS HID THORIUM PLAN
Both repeatedly refused to address residents' concerns in area

By Chris Neidenberg

While both now insist that they back "up and out" in solving the borough's over two-decades old thorium dilemma, Borough Council candidates Thomas Richards and Thomas Gaffney were part of a governing body culture which simply refused to respond to residents' repeated concerns over the federal government's eight-year stall in releasing a proposed thorium cleanup plan.
Documents conclusively prove that the federal government - as led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) , Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), simply sat on releasing a cleanup plan affecting roughly 300,000 cubic yards of toxic thorium-tainted soil under borough properties.
This was the case even after a state Department of Health study done for the feds' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in 1997, concluded that there were increased brain cancer incidences among women living near the site.
Richards and Gaffney - with long tenures in either municipal appointed or elected positions that have examined the issue - were well aware of this.
Richards first joined the council in 1975 and has been on and off it ever since, losing twice in mayoral contests to the late former Republican Mayor John Steuert along the way. Gaffney has served continuously since 1994.
During much of their tenures, the two joined others on the council in supporting permitting federal authorities to use the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) as a base in cleaning up sites in Lodi and Rochelle Park - along with a small smattering of borough residential properties thrown into the mix.
They went along with this program - even as the feds' continued hiding most of Maywood's own cleanup plan.
Richards and Gaffney kept backing this policy after the U.S. government rescinded its promise to release one complete proposed plan addressing the entire site.
The feds themselves once cited the Superfund law as requiring this, but, in a rather curious switch, ultimately decided applying this rule only to the smaller, first phase of the program (primarily residential) - in which Maywood had little stake.
While critics long argued during council meetings that this strategy could ultimately weaken the community's bargaining position in getting a permanent cleanup, Richards and Gaffney - while stating little on this topic publicly - rejected this view.
Both men have cited their benevolence in opening Maywood to taking toxic waste from Lodi residential properties on humanitarian grounds, since Lodi residents were living above contamination. Richards repeated this position during an Oct. 28 candidates forum at Borough Hall.
Yet neither have ever considered - or, at least in public - explained this rationale in light of the fact that the feds also prioritized cleaning up (ahead of many Lodi homes) the Ballod Associates vacant commercially-zoned property in Rochelle Park - a tract once owned by major Bergen County Republican bigwigs J. Fletcher Creamer and former county GOP Chairman John Schepisi, as well as Moses Sternlieb.
Richards, on the council in the 1980s as the early sites were being cleaned up, insisted that tbe borough needed to show concern for residents living in the Lodi homes. Yet about 32,000 of the 35,000 cubic yards in the initial MISS pile came from the Ballod commercial site.. The state described this property in one report as an "abandoned chemical dump."
Schepisi, Sternlieb and Creamer ultimately sold this property to developers who built the Bristol Manor Nursing Home. And it was Richards' biggest ally at the time, then-Congressman Robert Torricelli - who urged the feds to help the three Ballod owners by cleaning up this site before the "next construction season."
These three men retained ownership of another piece of the original Ballod site that the corps.only cleaned up recently.
Gaffney, an unsuccessful 2001 Republican state assembly candidate, in defending his stance on allowing the Lodi cleanup to proceed, has simply stated he was not around when the initial Ballod decision was made.
And in hearing the two veteran councilmen speak during the corps' Aug. 28 public hearing on the proposed plan, one might conclude both all along served as ardent champions of a cause supporting the complete cleanup of toxic waste largely generated through the years by Maywood Chemical Works and Stepan Chemical Company.
That is far from the case.
In fact, both lagged far behind The Concerned Citizens of Maywood, which consistently advocated an "up and out" strategy in removing the problem at repeated council meetings - while the two officials either said little or nothing in response.

Richards and Gaffney on thorium in the past
Perhaps no currrent local elected official has more of a questionable history related to the issue than Richards, The 18-year council veteran also had considerable say in framing the municipality's positions while off the council as chairman of Maywood's mysterious and former Environmental Legislative Action Committee (ELAC).
Richards' fingerprints on this issue date back to the problem's rather curious beginnings in 1983-84, around the time the federal government tried fingering Stepan Chemical Company as the "potentially responsible party (PRP)" for area low-level radioactive waste.
He supported Torricelli's later efforts to switch financial liability for the radiological portion of the problem, from the then-congressman's future Democratic campaign donor, to the taxpayers.
In defending this strategy during the Oct. 28 forum, Richards again asserted that, despite the EPA's 1983 directive citing Stepan and Stepan division Maywood Chemical Works as liable for the thorium cleanup via Superfund, the taxpayers have rightfully shouldered this burden.
He asserted that the federal government caused the problem even though records show Maywood Chemical never produced thorium under a federal government contract. Superfund clearly holds current site operators liable for assuming the financial liabilities and assets of their predecessors. though PRPs can try disputing any government claims in litigation.
Richards further defended the controversial "memorandum of understanding," negotiated in the early 1980s by then Borough Attorney William Rupp. He claimed in 1986 that the deal - which created the DOE-owned MISS - served as "a shield" in preventing the U.S. government from trucking in radioactive waste from other areas of New Jersey.
One thing is clear. Once the EPA put the heat on Stepan to pay up for thorium under Superfund, Torricelli, Rupp and Richards tried shiifting the blame and focus to the federal government.
Ever since, Richards and Maywood Democrats have insisted that the borough's progress in cleaning up radioactive waste must be solely dependent upon federal funds.
In 1983, they succeeded in halting the EPA's enforcement actions via transferring liability for thorium (though not chemical) pollution to the feds by bringing the DOE into the project. Torricelli, who recently ended his 2002 U.S. Senate re-election bid over ethics woes, denied that his actions were linked to company President F. Quinn Stepan's later campaign donations.
Richards has been an ardent defender of Steoan and Torricelli throughout his tenure' Citing principle, he has refused to consider the possibility (raised in a 1997 army corps report) of trying to secure more of Stepan's funds in helping remove thorium from his community.
Thus, if re-elected, Richards will likely keep supporting efforts to sustain the "DOE-Stepan" agreement Torricelli initally negotiated. At the Oct.28 forum, the councilman said he will keep seeking federal monies in cleaning up all the site's radioactive waste.
Richards now says he wants thorium from all borough sites excavated and disposed into a permanent storage facility - without using unproven treatment merhods, He.also supports a mandated "unrestricted use" level of five picocuries per gram (pcI/g). To help achieve this, he has proposed putting a park on the current Sears Distribution Center property when cleaned up.
Yet the councilman sang a much different tune in 1994 as a private citizen,
During a DOE information session at Maywood Avenue School, he maintained that the Sears area merited cleanup - as a commercial property - to a lower standard. He endorsed using the DOE's proposed "soil washing" treatment program in doing it. Even as the DOE's tests could not prove the process could attain an unrestricted use criteria of 5 pcI/g, Richards said he thought the process could "suck up" the added waste and reach the lower level.
In addition, Richards, as either ELAC chairman or councilman:
A. Told the Concerned Citizens group, in 1995, that ELAC did not have to hear residents' comments.
B. Offered no progress reports, as ELAC chairman, on the thorium issue over a roughly three-year period.
C. Participated in a secretive meeting with federal and state elected officials on Oct. 22, 2000 to witness the army corps' pilot soil separation program, which now-former Boroigh Administrator John Perkins assured, would be closed to the press and public.
D. Served as an open advocate for the DOE, as it kept concealing the proposed plan from Maywood residents, in serving on a DOE Remedy Solution committee while ELAC chairman in 1995.
E. Tried passing off ELAC as an official "environmental commission" in obtaining state tree-related funds, when it did not meet a state statute.
F. Knew of the federal cancer incidence study, as ELAC chairman, over two years before the state publicized it and kept the report under seal.
Gaffney, like Richards, has asserted that Maywood is esentially a prisoner to the federal government, under the arrangements Torricelli and Rupp earlier negotiated.
For instance, in 2000, he said there was nothing the borough could do to stop the corps from implementing the pilot soil separation prgram afrer residents demanded that the council act swiftly in stopping the corps.
Yet Gaffney has held a more consistent position than Richards in advocating that the entire town get an unrestricted use cleanup. The councilman has also said he would support any government effort which gets more thorium cleanup funding from Stepan - if it expedites the cleanup.
Richards and Gaffney on thorium in the present
The candidates, at the Aug, 28 corps hearing and the Oct. 28 forum, insisted that mandating "up and out" is now the only option.
"Now this 15 picocuries (per gram) comes into the picture," Gaffney complained during the corps' hearing. "I don't think you're really listening to us, I really don't.
"I want you to take it up with whoever are the powers that be and emphasize to whoever are the powers that be, this is what we want: 'Up and out," Gaffney told corps Site Manager Allen Roos. "That is what we want. That is what we asked for."
Richards agreed. He demanded, "5 pcI/g, nothing else."
"If you can clean up commercial properties in Lodi to 5 pcI/g, why can't you clean up Maywood's commercial properties to 5 pcI/g?" Richards asked Roos, referring to the unrestricted use criteria.
He added that it seems clear treatment schemes, such as separation, cannot meet the standard.
"Absent 100-percent concrete proof that it works, we will not suppport you," he vowed, demanding that the corps take "a different route."

LAUTENBERG NEVER BACKED FULL THORIUM CLEANUP
Wanted 15 pcI/g for Maywood, was silent on Stepan liability

New Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Framk Lautenberg once hailed a federal government plan to clean vast amounts of thorium-tainted soil to levels that will not permanently clean up Maywood, according to statements he issued when a 1994 draft cleanup plan was unveiled.

In fact, in a 1994 press release titled, "Guidelines to Be Set by EPA, Lautenberg Applauds Action, Says Wayne/Maywood Sites on Road to Cleanup," the candidate praised a U.S. government decision to clean most of Maywood's radioactive waste to levels not exceeding 15 picocuries per gram (pcI/g).

This criteria is now heavily opposed by governing body members, including Lautenberg's fellow Democtrat, Councilman,Thomas Richards, and those residents speaking at an Aug. 28 public hearing on the proposed plan.

Lautenberg praised an original decision to try implementing this unpopular criteria eight years ago, calling it "good news."

Yet the controversial decision, blasted by critics, followed protracted negotations, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried resisting the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) drive to implement the lower cleanup threshold. That is, until a joint EPA-DOE dispute resolution committee settled on it.

But during the dispute, two EPA officials, in pleading Maywood's case, warned using 15 pcI/g could designate the borough as "a permanent storage site."

Those opposed to the final outcome with the Concerned Citizens of Maywood blasted the EPA's acquiesence as " a cave-in." to DOE pressure.

In facr, the 1994 decision Lautenberg wanted was originally opposed by the state Department of Environmental Protection. It maintained that the standard was not in accordance with New Jersey regulations.

This opposition triggered a further delay, and no plan was offficially unveiled for another eight years.

"This is finally good news for the residents in Maywood and Wayne," the former senator stated in his 1994 release. "Now we can move forward with the cleanups."

In the release, Lautenberg endorsed a proposal to clean the Phase II (commercial and government-owned sites) in Maywood "to 15 pcI/g above background level, with an 'as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA)' goal of 5 pcI/g."

Yet use of ALARA does not guarantee a permanent cleanup.

Under its current proposal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still wants to clean up about 90 percent of the municipality's remaining targeted waste (some 220,000 cubic yards) to this less stringent criteria - even after eight years of delay.

The corps asserts this level is protective under current land use, and complies with existing state law, which would supersede any prior New Jersey regulations.

The corps is now under pressure from officials and residents to ditch ALARA and mandate the much tighter criteria - a permanent cleanup level of 5 pcI/g throughout the entire site.

Lautenbeeg, a former three-term incumbent, replaced Senator Robert Torricelli following Torrricelli's sudden wirhdrawal from the 2002 contest over ethical transgressions.

He is now running campaign attack ads against Republican opponent Douglas Forrester by maintaining he supports making "polluters" pay in cleaning up Superfund sites, while Forrester does not.

During a Sept. 6 site visit, Forrester blasted Torricelli's Maywood dealings, and insisted that he wants all of Maywood's contamination removed from the community.

Torricelli and Lautenberg have remained silent on whether Torricelli's campaign donor - and Maywood's worst polluter - Stepan Chemical Company, should now shoulder liability for paying to clean up thorium and chemical contamination. Much of this waste is mixed.

The corps, however, has not ruled out trying to recover even more monies from Stepan in expediting the thorium part of the cleanup.

If that happens, and the dreaded 15 pcI/g criteria sticks, Stepan would likely save a lot of money - and much of the tainted soil will be left on site.

Additionally, the federal government could remain in Maywood for many more years in monitoring future land use at the affected sites - even after the estimated six -year time frame it says it needs in using the lesser crriteria to clean up.

Maywood's toxic waste was largely generated by either Stepan or the predecessor company it inherited and incorporated as a division of the Northfield, Ill. company, Maywood Chemical Works.

Stepan subsequently profited handsomely in the 1960s by selling much of Maywood Chemical's old polluted plant grounds to other businesses which came into the borough. These sites are now occupied by companies including DeSaussure Engineering, the Sears Distribution Center and Federal Express.

Thus far, Stepan, under an agreement Torricelli helped arrange, will only have to pay for cleaning up chemicals.

Torricelli's "DOE-Stepan agreement" came into play shortly after the EPA's Lawrence Diamond informed Stepan executive John O'Brien that it was designated a "potential responsible party (PRP)" for "radioactive contamination."

Diamond maintained that Stepan was a rightful PRP, since the Superfund law holds current site owners liable for any waste their predecessors generated.

Yet ultimately, Torricelli, Maywood's Ninth District congressman at the time, secured passage of legislation in 1983 making the federal government and its taxpayers financially liable as the PRP - for all radiological contamination.

This overrode Diamond's earlier enforcement action against Stepan on thorium pollution (though not chemicals) ,and remains in effect to this day.

Thorium cleanup liability was then assigned to the DOE and its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. The corps replaced the DOE as the lead agency in 1997.

Angela Carpenter, the EPA's project manager, stated in 1995 that Torricelli's moves complicated the borough's cleanup picture via adding another layer of bureaucracy (the DOE) into the mix.

She said that, prior to this act, Maywood was "a garden variety Superfund site." Years earlier. Torricelli maintained the move was necessary to avoid litigation, which could delay the program. After shifting liability from Stepan to the government, Torricelli drew criticism for subsequently receiving repeated campaign donations from Stepan's president, F. Quinn Stepan - a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

Thus, had Torricelli never acted, Stepan and its West Humter Avenue plant would be financially liable for cleaning up thorium and chemicals - under one project - throughout the entire site.

The federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds in Maywood since Torricell]s agreement..

Yet Lautenberg and Torricelli took a much different stance at another FUSRAP/Superfund site in nearby Wayne.

They aggressively called for the U.S. Department of Justice to recover additional cleanup monies in remediating thorium and chemicals at the smaller WR Grace and Company site in 1999. The corps is cleaning up this site's thorium to a tighter criteria than it wants applied within Maywood.

In fact, Torricelli maintained that the feds were improperly subsidizing Grace's costs, even while he continued backing having the taxpayers subsidize his campaign donor's (Stepan's) own costs - under a deal he helped negotiate,

COUNCIL WON''T PUBLICLY VOTE ON CORPS' THORIUM PLAN
But Kuss, Fede will send agency letters as to borough's position

By Chris Neidenberg

Though it had two chances to publicly do so, the Borough Council declined to vote on any resolution concerning the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' massive proposed thorium cleanup plan.

At the council's Oct. 23 meeting, Mayor Wayne Kuss told resident Michael Nolan, environmental chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Maywood, that the governing body's view on this profpund decision will be found in letters the mayor and Borough Attorney Andrew Fede prepared.

The feds recently extended the term of a public comment period on the plan, as requested, from Oct. 12 to Nov. 11

"I'd like to know if the borough has issued any kind of comments on the proposed plan," asked Nolan, who urged the borough to shut down its borders to any additional outside contamination - unless 5 pcI'/g is guaranteed for Maywood in the record of decision.

"We did it (took a stand) collectively,'" the mayor replied. "Andrew (Fede) did it (borough's letter) as a body."

The mayor added that he has sent his own letter.

But in forming any position, the council would likely have had some kind of collective discussion somewhere...

The council also held a regular public meeting Sept. 25 but did not post a resolution on the issue. Thus, it held twlo public meetings since the corps' Aug. 28 public hearing without taking any public vote.

At that hearing, Councilmen Thomas Richards, Thomas Gaffney and James Petrie said they would oppose any corps plan imposing a cleanup criteria of 15 picocuries per gram at any site in the municipality, and will try forcing use of a definitive "unrestricted use" criteria of 5 pcI/g.

Richards and Gaffney raised the possibility of doing this via imposing land use changes, such as zoning a park use near the Sears Distribution Center site.

By not posting a resolution, Councilpersons Dr. Tim Eustace, Fred Zigrest and Jeannie Matullo do not have to take an official stand.

The council's decision to only send a letter means anyone interested in finding out its official position, on how the corps should clean up about 220,000 cubic yards of targeted low-level radioactive waste, will have to request the correspondence from the corps.

Nolan said after his appearance that the council should have posted a public resolution, and given its vote of confidence for taking the waste "up and out."

This is the view that all of the municipality's soil should simply be dug up and carted away, without using any unworkable treatment methods that can't achieve the level.

There is prcedence for a public resolution. In the late 1980s a prior council voted to publicly affirm its support for a state-backed proposal known as "the Utah plan," which called for carting all the soil away to a permanent disposal facility in that state. This plan is similar to what the council and Kuss are expected to request in their letters.

Note: Due to the complexities of the borough's thorium cleanup plan, TRUTH HURTS has decided to present the matter under two separate stories. The first provides an overview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal, as well as historical background on the many events which preceded this significant moment, and have, in fact, impacted it. A second story on the hearing itself, featuring the comments of residents and corps and borough officials, is forthcoming.

CORPS' PROPOSES PARTIAL THORIUM CLEANUP PLAN
Only 12 percent of targeted waste would see final cleanup

By Chris Neidenberg

Residents and municipal officials denounced a U.S. Army Corps of Engiineers plan to only permanently clean up a small fraction of about 220,000 cubic yards of low-level radioactive waste in their community buried under commerical properties. They spoke during a long-awaited public hearing on the proposal, held Aug. 28 in Borough Hall.

The federal government has delayed releasing this plan for at least the last eight years. The process, undertaken by the corps and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has been criticized in correspondence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as needlessly prolonged. Even though the EPA has an oversight role in the process, the agency was apparently powerless to help the community by compelling a shorter time frame.

The corps, which says its proposal is based on an objective review of current land use, and complies with New Jersey law, only subjects 26,380 of a total of 220,379 cubic yards to a permanent cleanup level. Some EPA officials once claimed this level should be applied to the entire site, because it would best protect human health and the environment, in a densely populated community. They were overruled. The corps says a state statute allows it to now clean up less.

Additonally, the plan is really incomplete. It does not address chemical soil, as well as chemical and radiological groundwater contamination. These issues have been deferred to a later date.

A written public comment period on the proposal is set to lapse Oct. 12.

Roughly 30 residents and some municipal officials attended. It was preceded by a less formal information session more typical of corps events held locally, since the agency took control of the cleanup from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1997.

The corps put forth various pieces of literature and poster displays which detailed aspects of its proposal, offered a historical overview and explained some of the requirements it must follow in implementing any plan.

Also prominently featured were displays from the Concerned Citizens of Maywood (CCM), which has harshly criticized the U.S. governrnent's efforts over the past 17 years, and protested the government's conduct at the site.

The incomplete plan pertains only to the future cleanup of buried low-level radioactive soil under buildings and property. A plan for addressing any chemical soil and groundwater contamination - outside of the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) - has been worked on - for at least the last 10 years - by Stepan Chemical Company under direct EPA oversight.

Stepan has yet to unveil it. The EPA first issued a unilareral order against Stepan to start a Remedial Investigation Feasibility Study on chemicals, following about four years of protracted negotiations which failed to produce a mutual agreement, in 1991.

Some local Maywood officials, including now-former Democratic Mayor Thomas Murphy, have said they believe the site's chemical pollution poses a far more serious problem.

As for radioactive contaminants in the groundwater, the corps stated in its own proposed plan that it is studying the issue, and will address the matter in the future.

Sites completed, and sites which still need action

Most of Maywood's plan falls under the second phase of the radiological cleanup that targets almost all the affected commercial properties (except one). Borough sites covered in this phase include the federally-owned Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS), Stepan Chemical Company, DeSausssere Engineering, the Sears Distribution Center and Federal Express. Other smaller sites are also affected.

Cleanup of all the affected residential properties in Lodi, Maywood and Rochelle Park, and the Ballod commercial site in Rochelle Park, (Phase I) has been completed. The corps inherited this phased plan from the DOE.

Suddenly, the feds are worried about "cost-effectiveness"

The corps is asserting that using soil separation to treat vast amounts of contamination in place under the larger commercial properties, combined with more limited excavation at smaller sites, is cheaper ($244 million) than excavating and carting away all the soil by applying the more stringent criteria.throughout the entire site ($254 million). Residents addressing the corps during the Aug. 28 hearing argued that this $10 million differential does not justify the agency's decision not to push for the more comprehensive cleanup.

And the more limited corps plan comes after two federal agencies - the corps and the DOE under EPA oversight - spent untold hundreds of millions of dollars more, studying the various sites and cleaning up the residences and the Ballod property in Rochelle Park by moving the soil through Maywood without any proposed plan, over an almost 20-year period.

Two federal contractors, Bechtel National Inc. (DOE) and Stone and Websrer (corps), have been involved all during this time. By refusing to release a proposed plan earlier covering both phases, as once promised, the federal government never had to discuss the cost-effectiveness issue for both the residential/Ballod commercial (Phase I) and commercial (Phase II) properties at the same time.

It is only expressing this concern in the second phase, which will most profoundly impact upon Maywood.

A protracted struggle, years of delay - and political intrigue

The hearing marked a significant milestone in the controversial history of the site, as the federal government - represented by the DOE, the EPA and the corps - seemingly resisted attempts previously to give Maywoodians any extensive input into the cleanup process.

It comes eight years after the EPA pointed out that the DOE was holding up issuing the same proposed plan.

Yet, all during that time, Maywood residents saw their doors open to taking toxic waste from residences in Lodi and the unremediated portion of the Ballod commercial property - as their elected officials showed little interest in finding out what the U.S. government wanted to do with the vast bulk of their own waste (under active commercial properties).

The EPA stated in a 1994 report that the draft proposed plan was on hold due to "community concerns" over a proposal to implement soil washing, a treatment process that - crtiics charged then - would not have resulted in the best possible cleanup asssuring protectiveness.

The corps is essentially pushing the same radioactive waste cleanup criteria sought by the DOE eight years ago.

Five years after the corps took over the project, it has pushed implementing a somewhat similar methodology known as "soll separation," which remains a possible option in its own proposed plan.

This, despite the fact that Allen Roos, the corps' project manager, conceded on Aug. 28 that - just as the DOE before it - the corps has not been able to prove that the process can attain cleanup levels long desired by the community.

And rather than incorporating the cleanup of the non-Maywood properties with all the borough's under one proposed plan regardless of land use (which the DOE was apparently preparing to release as early as 1993), the EPA and DOE decided to abandon that pledge - even as government documents suggested that the Superfind law required one plan. The corps continued this policy upon taking control.

The DOE and EPA instead changed the rules in the middle of the game by piecemealing the remaining properties into two phases - residential/Ballod commercial (which did not use a proposed plan) and all the remaining commercial (which will).

While the bulk of that contamination sits in Maywood, some smaller commercial sites in Lodi, will be addressed. Both Democrats and Republicans on the Maywood governing body rejected repeated complaints from residents that this policy - prioritizing the Lodi residences and Ballod for cleanup at the MISS while letting the feds keep most of Maywood's own plan under seal - ultimately weakened the borough's voice.

The federal government - seemingly oblivious to the criticisms within Maywood despite ample documentation questioning the legality of its actions - moved forward unperturbed.

Now these same federal agencies are trying to convince Maywoodians that they care about their concerns - in executing the final stages of the cleanup

While Maywood's Democrats (led by Councilman Thomas Richards) always made cleaning up the Lodi residential sites their top priority, even if that meant putting Maywood's long-term interests on hold, borough Republicans (which once fought with the Democrats by placing Maywood's concerns first), ultimately joined with the Democrats in prioritizing cleanup of Lodi residences and the Ballod site at the MISS.

While some current Maywood Republicans, like Councilman Thomas Gaffney, have tried to justify prioritizing the Lodi residences out of their concern for people living in the homes, a check of the entire history of the site shows that addressing residenrial tracts over commercial sites was not always the federal government's top priority.

In the mid 1980s, then Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-9) lobbied the DOE to clean up as one of its earliest properties the first portion of the Ballod site, a commercially-zoned property contaminated with thorium and high levels of chemicals.

The state once described this piece as "an abandoned chemical dump." In fact, this comprIsed about 32,000 of the 35,000 cubic yards stored in the pile at




This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?