Monday, October 25, 2010

DPW Site Contamination: Announcement and Observation

The October 19 M&C Public Meeting had a surreal feel, both at the meeting and days afterwards.  First, the meeting was delayed by over 45 minutes.  Second, the mayor announced that major contamination that dated to the 1980's were apparently never remediated.  Comments followed from the borough administrator, borough attorney and council members. The usual committee reports were deferred; the borough administrator devoted all of his time to this issue.

I asked the mayor whether he could make any and all information related to this case available on the borough website without residents having to file OPRA requests. The council president could be seen nodding in seeming agreement to my request. The mayor responded that he would take it under advisement. There was silence from the council. I returned to my seat. Why would the mayor appear not to immediately honor my request for making information public?

An article appeared on the Record, but not until October 21, two days later.  The title took several turns, from "Dumont Tries to Address Its Past", to "Dumont Contamination Heats Up Race for Council", to the current "Dumont DPW Cited by State Over Contamination, But Paperwork is Missing".

As of October 25, there was no press release found on the borough website.  Why is news so important to health and property such as this being left exclusively to the newspaper for coverage?

A casual inquiry to the NJDEP revealed the following from their records search facility called "DEP Data Miner":

NJDEP "DEP Data Miner" Query for Dumont DPW Public Records

Take a look through the search results using "Data Miner" on the NJDEP home page.  The pages are specifically sequenced so that anyone having access to the internet can step through and duplicate the inquiry and results.  Perhaps the violations that were announced do not appear on the online database.  To the untrained eye, it appears that during both current and previous administrations:

  • Various permits were applied and granted; 
  • Periodic inspections were conducted; 
  • Violations were found during some inspections.

Again, I do not claim expertise in this area, so I will leave further interpretation to the reader.