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Toxic Sludge Looms as Redevelopment Agency Meets On Mon. Jan. 22, 2024

Jan 22, 2024
Toxic Sludge Looms Red Dump Truck Harrison NJ

As the Harrison Redevelopment Agency (HRA) gears up for its critical meeting on January 22, 2024, at 1 p.m. in the Mayor's 3rd Floor Conference Room in the Harrison Town Hall, a shadow of controversy hangs over the proceedings. The meeting, set to address a range of fiscal and administrative resolutions for the upcoming year, comes amid growing concerns over Mayor James Fife's, also the chairman of the HRA, silence on a contentious environmental issue.

At the heart of the dispute is the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to establish a toxic sludge dewatering and concrete plant at the former PSE&G Gas Works site, alarmingly close to a residential neighborhood featuring luxury apartment buildings. Critics argue that Mayor Fife's lack of opposition to this plan represents a significant oversight, one that potentially compromises the health and well-being of Harrison residents. The plan not only threatens to expose the community to environmental hazards but also robs Harrison of much-needed amenities like a community center, a Path Station turnaround, and vital green space.

The agenda for the upcoming meeting, while packed with routine items such as the approval of minutes, designating official newspapers, and adopting a cash management plan for Fiscal Year 2024, seems to overlook the pressing environmental and community concerns. The meeting will also address the amendment of 2023 Professional Services Contracts, including the resolution to ratify increased expenses paid to Heyer, Gruel & Associates for planning services.

Notably, the cash management plan, crucial for the agency's fiscal operations, is designed to ensure public funds' safety, liquidity, and return on investments. The plan includes authorized banks and investment avenues, safekeeping, and reporting requirements – elements that, while important, pale in comparison to the looming environmental crisis.

The HRA's decisions, particularly in light of the PSE&G site issue, are pivotal not only for Harrison's financial health but also for its environmental and communal well-being. Mayor Fife's stance, or lack thereof, on this critical issue, raises questions about the agency's priorities and its commitment to safeguarding the town's future.

As the Harrison community braces for the meeting's outcomes, the question looms: Will the HRA address the elephant in the room, or will fiscal agendas overshadow the pressing environmental and social concerns? The answers to these questions will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of Harrison and its residents.

It was at the August 29, 2022, Harrison Redevelopment Agency (HRA) meeting that Mayor James Fife stated when referring to the former PSE&G Gas Works, “Of course, you have the biggest piece Public Service,  the EPA is holding that up.  We were going to do some planning over there but the EPA is going to using it for the [Passaic] river dredge [aka sludge].  We don’t know how long that is going to be it could be 10 years.  But It is up to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)  and PSE&G (Public Service Electric & Gas)  to decide what is going on there.” 

Mayor Fife has done nothing to try to stop the EPA’s Toxic Sludge Plant from being a reality. At a recent public meeting, Alice Yeh of the EPA acknowledged that the former PSE&G Gas Works is the property that the EPA is seeking to use to dewater the sludge from the Passaic River including the most toxic sludge in the river.  Mayor Fife at a December 2023 meeting of the Mayor & Council avoided answering a question regarding whether he opposed the EPA plan to build a dewatering plant in Harrison.  It is egregious that Mayor Fife is not opposing EPA's plan. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Mayor Fife is in favor of dewatering toxic Agent Orange Sludge in Harrison NJ.

Learn More Read These Articles:

Mayor Fife’s Legacy: Green Space Unfilled Promises & EPA Toxic Sludge

EPA Toxic Sludge Plan Worse Than Expected And It Was Already Bad


Video Links:

Highlights of Harrison NJ Town Meeting of Sept.20,2022 where EPA Plan to Dump Agent Orange Discussed

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