If we have concluded that we are being asked to take senseless and frightening risks, then we should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals…
-- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Toxics
Toxics

The New Jersey Worker and Community Right to Know Act (1983) and the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 were developed to protect public health and the environment by ensuring that communities and workers are informed about the toxic chemicals being released into the air, land and water.

The New Jersey Worker and Community Right to Know Act states "the proliferation of hazardous substances in the environment poses a growing threat to the public health, safety, and welfare….and that individuals have an inherent right to know the full range of risks they face so that they can make reasoned decisions and take informed action concerning their employment and their living conditions."

The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) guarantees the legal right of citizens to review emergency response plans (ERPs). These plans must be developed and updated annually by all counties and municipalities.

Even though New Jersey has more than 3,000 facilities that use hazardous chemicals, the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) has failed to meet its legal obligation to ensure public access to ERPs.

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Recommendations

  • Improve emergency response plans
  • Expand the further development of local emergency planning committees

First 100 Days

Instruct the State Emergency Response Commission, as required by EPCRA, to make ERPs for all local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) available to the public and implement and expand required notification procedures

First Year

Ensure that emergency response plans are accessible in English, as well as the primary languages spoken within LEPC districts, available online and written in a manner that instructs the community how to prepare and respond as may be required in an emergency

First Term

Issue an Executive order changing the designation of the Emergency Planning Districts, reconstituting and supporting the further development of LEPCs in accordance with, or exceeding, current federal guidelines and ensure community participation with an emphasis on Environmental Justice (EJ) community advocates
Utilize either the Hazard Mitigation Plan model that requires counties to submit a comprehensive plan to the state (and municipalities to submit information to the county) or consider creating regional areas, as was done by the Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative
Require municipalities with large quantities of hazardous substances, TCPA facilities or densely populated areas to continue as designated emergency planning districts
New Jersey LCV Education Fund greatly appreciates each organization’s contributions and valued expertise shared in this effort as well as the immeasurable commitment put forward to protecting New Jersey’s environment:

The American Littoral SocietyAssociation of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)Clean Ocean Action (COA)ClimateMamaEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF)GreenFaithHackensack RiverkeeperIronbound Community Corporation (ICC)Isles, Inc.Moms Clean Air ForceMonmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF)New Jersey AudubonThe NJ Clean Cities CoalitionNew Jersey Conservation FoundationNew Jersey FutureNew Jersey Highlands CoalitionNJ Work Environment Council (WEC)NY/NJ BaykeeperNew York-New Jersey Trail ConferencePinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA)Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA)ReThink Energy NJSave Barnegat BayStony Brook-Millstone Watershed AssociationThe Land Conservancy of New JerseyTri-State Transportation CampaignThe Trust for Public LandWilliam Penn FoundationGeraldine R. Dodge FoundationThe Fund for New Jersey

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