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Tammy Murphy NO to Gas Plant EPA YES to Toxic Sludge in Harrison

Feb 26, 2024
US Senate Candidate Tammy Murphy

In a recent turn of events, attention has been drawn to New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Law by US Senate Candidate Tammy Murphy, notably the spouse of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who is seeking to replace embattled US Senator Robert Menendez. Tammy Murphy has publicly voiced her opposition to a proposed natural gas-powered plant by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) plant in the Ironbound Section of Newark just across the Passaic River from Harrison NJ. This opposition comes at a critical juncture as environmental concerns take center stage in New Jersey politics.  As of yet, US Senate candidate Andy Kim has not stated his position with respect to the PVSC natural gas-powered plant.

EPA Confirms Intent To Use PSE&G’s Property

Parallel to this development, Alice Yeh from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed at a public meeting plans for a toxic sludge dewatering plant to be built on a site in Harrison, NJ, previously occupied by a natural gas plant operated by PSE&G. The site, having undergone cleanup, is now at the heart of a controversial plan to process and temporarily store toxic sludge from the Passaic River, containing dioxins – highly toxic compounds linked to cancer and known byproducts of Agent Orange production during the Vietnam War.

The EPA's proposal includes the dewatering of toxic sludge, storage of debris from the Passaic River, and the encapsulating of the most hazardous material on site before it is transported to other locations for final disposal. This initiative, aimed at cleaning up the Passaic River, raises significant health and safety concerns for nearby residential areas, now thriving with luxury apartment buildings and community spaces initially earmarked for green spaces and community development projects. It also raises concerns with respect to why EPA is placing this dewatering plant in a residential community rather than in an industrial zone such as South Kearny which fronts the Passaic River as well.

The revelation of these plans has not only sparked environmental and health concerns but also highlighted a potential gap in communication and alignment among local leaders and candidates on these critical issues. Tammy Murphy's stance on the PVSC gas-powered plant project is clear, yet her awareness of the EPA's adjacent toxic sludge plant project remains uncertain. There is a reason for that.

Harrison's Administration Hiding The Truth

Mayor James Fife of Harrison, along with the Town council have come under scrutiny for their failure to inform residents of Harrison of EPA’s planned toxic sludge dewatering plant.  Frankly, it appears that Mayor James Fife favors the plan. In light of the fact that he is not only the Mayor of Harrison but also the Chairman of Harrison’s Redevelopment Agency makes one wonder why he has not spoken out against EPA’s plan to put a toxic sludge plant in what is now a residential community. 

On several occasions at Public Sessions of the Town of Harison meetings, Mayor Fife has been given the opportunity to oppose the EPA Toxic Sludge Plant and has demurred in doing so. The recent cancellation of key redevelopment and council meetings adds to the growing concern among residents about the transparency and future of their community. Why wouldn’t Mayor Fife be against the toxic sludge plant?  Such a plant, putting aside the toxic sludge environmental impact on the Town’s residents and image, would interfere with plans to build a Green Space in the form of a Park, Community Center, and a drop-off/turnaround area for the park community center and the Path station turn around.

The juxtaposition of these projects – one aimed at energy production and the other at environmental clean-up – presents a complex challenge to the community.  US Senate candidate Tammy Murphy stated, I stand strongly with you and I oppose the PVSC plant.” Governor Murphy supported New Jersey’s Environmental Justice Law whose goal was to protect municipalities from further environmental burdens by making it harder to place plants like the proposed PVSC gas-powered electric plant and EPA’s toxic sludge dewatering plant in communities that historically are burdened with chemical companies, garbage dumps, incinerators, and power plants. Governor Murphy, however, has not opposed the PVSC power plant and appears to be in favor of the additional power plant.  US Senate candidate Tammy Murphy does not share his view.  She refused to answer whether she had discussed the PVSC plant with her husband.  I’m sure she has but does not want to share that publically.

We Can’t Stand By & Let Others Ruin Mayor McDonough’s Legacy


The Wyldes Harrison's Newest Luxury Apartment Building

The late Mayor of Harrison, Raymond McDonough, and then Town Council members set in motion the redevelopment of the Town of Harrison’s former industrial zone into a residential zone.  After 26 years, the fruits of Mayor McDonough and then Town Council’s vision are coming to fruition.  EPA’s plan to put a toxic sludge dewatering plant into what is now a residential community will run counter to the Town of Harrison’s Redevelopment Plan and put the plan into flux.  What is supposed to be a Green Space, Community Center, and Drop Off and Turn around for the Community Center / Park / Path Station can’t be erased and replaced with an Agent Orange Dioxin Laden Cancer Causing Dewatering Plant.  How Mayor Fife has not opposed this plan which he, himself, stated he knew about at least since August 29, 2022, is reprehensible to put it kindly. August 29, 2022, was a watershed day because Mayor Fife revealed a hidden secret that he knew. He stated that the EPA planned to use the PSE&G property for dewatering toxic sludge in response aimed at deferring blame to EPA and PSE&G for his failure to have Green Spaces for residents in the Redevelopment Zone.

In 2022, Mayor James Fife through his surrogate Council President James P. Doran Ed.D wrote a letter to Harrison Residents stating that "I can say with 100% surety that there are NO plans to "Dredge" or place any toxic waste anywhere in Harrison. They are trying to scare the people with lies and made-up stories at election time! The people have had enough of their lies and scare tactics. I am sure the Fife Team will again expose them or the lies they tell." The letter came at a time when Councilman Anselmo Millan was running against Mayor Fife for Mayor of Harrison and circulating a Petition Against the Toxic Sludge Dewatering Plant.  Anselmo Millan opposes the sludge plant.  Millan was one of the Council members who launched Harrison’s Redevelopment Plan with the late Mayor McDonough.  Millan stated, “I oppose the sludge plant and I cannot understand how Mayor Fife has not opposed it”.

Truth In The Story

The truth is Mayor Fife and the Council President / Director of Personnel at Harrison Public School James Doran in 2022 lied to the residents and stakeholders of Harrison.  Mayor Fife stated at the August 29, 2022, Harrison Redevelopment Agency Meeting that EPA was planning to build a sludge dewatering plant at the PSE&G plant. It was recorded on video via Zoom yet Mayor Fife was bold enough to deny the statement even though he knew he made it and it was recorded.

Quoted from James Doran's letter to residents "Once again Millan and Pinho are trying to create an issue that does NOT exist. Quite honestly there is just no truth to this story. This is clearly a made-up fictitious story by Pinho and Millan to scare you into voting for Millan". EPA’s recent public statement confirms what then Councilman Anselmo Millan and local attorney John Pinho were telling the truth. Mayor Fife and Council President / Director of Personnel at Harrison Public School were not truthful with the public.

Residents and stakeholders are left pondering the future of their community as they navigate the implications of the project on their health, environment, and local economy. The outcomes of this proposed development will likely influence political, environmental, and community landscapes in New Jersey for years to come.

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