Jersey Journal (Jersey City)
June 21, 2005


By Alexander Lane

A state report on toxic waste in Hudson County has sparked criticism
from an unlikely source: two of the scientists who helped write it.

Zoey Kellman, a chemical engineer, and Theodore Hayes, a soil
scientist, criticized the Department of Environmental Protection's
review of cleanup standards at 200 or so chromium sites, most in
Jersey City. They said the agency favored industry interests over the
health of people living near the sites.

"I feel strongly that the errors and omissions in this report expose
the public to unnecessary health risks," Kellman wrote.

DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell said he "welcomed them to submit
comments . made (it) very clear that all views are welcome, and that
those comments will be examined as well as others before a final
decision is made."

He said it was yet to be determined how much weight they would be

Three companies -- now known as Honeywell, PPG Industries and
Occidental Chemical -- refined chrome ore in Hudson County for much of
the last century. Giant piles of toxic waste accumulated and they
eventually disposed of it by distributing it as fill throughout Hudson
and parts of Essex counties.

That left some 200 known toxic sites, each containing some quantity of
the bright green, highly toxic hexavalent form of chromium, a known

Over time, the DEP -- at the urging of the companies -- loosened
standards so much that some sites no longer required significant

Some DEP scientists and community activists contend the change in
standards was based on biased, industry-funded science. Campbell last
year assigned a team of 24 scientists -- drawn from various federal
and state agencies -- to look into the matter.

Their report found numerous lingering questions about chromium
toxicity, but recommended no change in the standards. It is that
recommendation Kellman and Hayes have questioned.

"Children playing in the imported soils at their homes may be exposed
to more dusts containing hexavalent chromium than is currently
assumed," Hayes wrote in the introduction to his highly technical
comments. "Please read the attached papers which address why the soil
cleanup standards for inhalation should be lower than what has been
used historically."

Representatives of Honeywell, PPG and Tierra Solutions -- the company
handling Occidental's chromium liability -- declined to comment on the
objections of Kellman and Hayes.

Copyright 2005