By SHERRI RUGGIERI
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program has designated the City of Camden, New Jersey to receive federal funding in the amount of $400,000. The funding will enable blighted areas to be assessed, cleaned-up, and redeveloped. In addition to protecting public health and improving the environment, this program’s goals are to stimulate jobs and other economic opportunities. “We’re seeing a great Camden revitalization – with more jobs, less crime and better educational opportunities – and this federal funding will help add to that growth,” said U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “These federal investments will help us continue to improve our city. Every week, the city is opening new businesses, parks and schools. It’s amazing to witness Camden’s historic transformation and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
According to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, “EPA’s Brownfields Program expands the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses, using existing infrastructure.” The two site selected in Camden are located at 726 Kaighn Avenue, a former electroplating facility, that ended operation in 2004, and 1667 Davis Street, Camden Laboratories site, which became vacant in 2008. Both sites have required and continue to need massive environmental cleanup. In 2011, over 80 containers of acids, metals, cyanide, ammonia and sodium hydroxide were removed from 726 Kaighn Avenue. At 1667 Davis Street, Camden Laboratories area, the groundwater was found to be contaminated with chlorinated solvents, and the soil, with mercury.
Camden Mayor Frank Moran explained that “The property [at 726 Kaighn Avenue] has been vacant and a blight on our community for decades, attracting nothing but trash and drug activity.” With regard to the Camden Laboratories, Mayor Moran stated that “The presence of the dilapidated structure has long been an eyesore next to the adjacent Whitman Park recreational fields and a nuisance to the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Utilizing funding from the New Jersey Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF), the City and the Camden Redevelopment Agency plan to demolish the structure. Directly thereafter, using the US EPA Brownfields Cleanup funds and leveraging additional HDSRF funds, we will begin to remediate the property. Once completed, our vision calls for the extension of the recreational fields in order to provide greater usage by the community.”
Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.
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