TOMS RIVER – Local officials are urging the public to speak out about the settlement that will protect 1,000 acres of Ciba-Geigy property as open space, but allow about 250 acres to be developed.
Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill and Council President Matthew Lotano encouraged Toms River residents to attend the “Community Speak Out” being held on January 25 from 6-9 p.m. at Toms River High School North’s auditorium. It is a chance for the public to express concerns and let their voice be heard.
They said a video of the event will be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection during the official comment period on the settlement. Additionally, Save Barnegat Bay, who is hosting the Speak Out, will include a transcript of it as part of their comment.
According to a settlement announced by the DEP, about 1,000 acres would be preserved. Of this, approximately 790 acres will be maintained as open space and will include restoration projects. The remaining 210 acres will be set aside for pollinator habitat and solar energy production.
There would be trails, a boardwalk, and an environmental education center. The project could break ground as soon as spring of 2023 and be open to the public in phases over the next five years.
The remaining 255 acres are zoned as light industrial and front onto Route 37.
Toms River elected officials and civic leaders were excluded from the negotiations, Hill said. “The proposed settlement fails to compensate the victims of the cancer cluster caused by the pollution generated at the site. Nor does it adequately compensate the community for the environmental and economic damage caused over many decades.”
Ciba-Geigy was a dye manufacturer that opened in 1952 and closed in 1990. During that time, it dumped a lot of chemicals into the land and waters. It became an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site in 1983. The settlement with the State DEP will not impact the situation with the federal EPA.
BASF assumed responsibility for the site in 2010 through corporate acquisitions. When BASF acquired Ciba, the property was undergoing remediation efforts such as excavation and capping of contaminated areas and the pumping and treatment of contaminated groundwater, the DEP said.
Educate And Be Educated
Save Barnegat Bay is hosting two events on the topic. The first is an online seminar on January 17 from 4-5 p.m.
Guest Speaker Diane Salkie is the Remedial Project Manager for the Ciba-Geigy Superfund site. She will be discussing the history of the site, the source remediation that has been completed and groundwater remediation that is still ongoing, the group said. She will also discuss the solar fields currently running and the environmental education programs conducted by the current property owners.
The webinar is free. To sign up, visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RKUB7TLjR9uqGxpNZFaRcA
The other event is the Speak Out being held on January 25 from 6-9 p.m. at Toms River High School North’s auditorium. This is a time for the public to educate the DEP about what the Ciba settlement means to them.
For more information, visit savebarnegatbay.org/initiatives/ciba-geigy-superfund-site-in-toms-river/
How To Comment
Comments about the settlement may be submitted electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be accepted until February 3.
There is a way to comment on the settlement on the DEP’s site as well. The proposed settlement agreement between BASF and the DEP can be found here: nj.gov/dep/nrr/settlements/index.html
For more information on the EPA’s remediation process, visit cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.cleanup&id=0200078#Status
For information from the EPA on site background and cleanup progress, visit cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.cleanup&id=0200
Council Meeting Rescheduled
A Township Council meeting is the place for municipal business to get done and for residents to find out what’s happening in their town.
Local officials know that there’s no municipal business more important than Ciba-Geigy, so they rescheduled their January 25 meeting so that people could make it to the Community Speak Out. The council meeting, normally held at 6 p.m., will instead be moved to 4 p.m. of that day.