For Immediate Release
Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337
Chromium Far Deadlier Than Earlier Assessments Indicate
Scores of Capped New Jersey Contaminated Sites Will Have to Be Re-Evaluated
chromium in the soil is associated with carcinogenicity, according to
documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). Current New Jersey standards are more than 200
times laxer than these new findings indicate are needed to protect
The "Risk Assessment for Hexavalent Chromium" performed for the New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) was finalized on
April 8, 2009. Its key conclusion is -
"Based on exposure assumptions for the oral exposure
pathway in the NJDEP Soil Remediation Standards, this potency factor
corresponds to a soil remediation criterion for Cr+6 of 1 ppm".
This 1 part-per-million finding raises serious questions about the
current New Jersey soil clean-up remediation standard for residential
areas of 240 ppm (6100 ppm non-residential). That means that families
living in areas meeting state remediation standards may still be at
New Jersey has many chromium-contaminated sites from old industrial
operations. Hexavalent chromium is the same substance against which
Erin Brockovich campaigned in California.
The new risk assessment came to light because of a state public
records request filed by Zoe Kelman, a former NJDEP chemical engineer,
who resigned in disgust after her warnings about chromium migrating off
completed sites and likely coming into direct contact with residents
and workers were ignored.
Last week, NJDEP closed public comment on a controversial chromium
cleanup settlement for Jersey City sites owned by PPG Industries. This
new risk assessment was completed on April 8th but was not given to the
community and was released to Ms. Kelman after the April 15th comment
"Withholding this critical public health information shows stunning
official insensitivity to the residents of Jersey City and other
affected communities," said Kelman, who was removed from
chromium-related issues and denied meaningful work by then-DEP
Commissioner Lisa Jackson after she voiced concerns. "NJDEP has
repeatedly shown that it is incapable of addressing needed remedies for
chromium contamination in an honest and straightforward manner."
This latest assessment only looked at the ingestion danger from
chromium from dust or soil. A study released last fall looked at the
inhalation danger and found greatly heightened risks of lung cancer
from exposure to airborne chromium in the Jersey suburbs of the New
York metropolitan area.
"Contrary to state standards, these studies show there is virtually
no safe exposure level for chromium," stated PEER Executive Director
Jeff Ruch, noting that California is now preparing to adopt its own
chromium standards. "This assessment validates the alarms sounded by
Zoe Kelman. Yet, despite repeated wake-up calls on chromium dangers,
New Jersey continues on snooze control."
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.