The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kirsten Stade, (202) 265-7337

Research Confirms St. Lawrence Cement Plant Pollutes Nearby Camden Waterfront Neighborhood


A coalition of local, regional and statewide environmental advocates
came together today to publicly unveil a state report that confirms
that the St. Lawrence Cement Plant (Holcim) in Camden, New Jersey -
located within just blocks of the Waterfront South community - does
indeed contribute significant pollution to this poor and working class

The report, "Final Report: Contribution of Particulate
Emissions from a Cement Facility to Outdoor Dust in Surrounding
Community," was submitted to the NJDEP by researchers at UMDNJ-Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School and Environmental and Occupational Health
Sciences Institute on October 6, 2008.

The report clearly states on page 11 "that the elemental
concentrations and morphological characteristics showed that the
re-suspended dusts from the raw cement piles in the cement facility did
have some impact on the residential areas surrounding the cement
facility. We did conclude that the spatial impact of the particulate
emissions from the cement facility to outdoor dust occurred during the
study; however, the contribution is limited to Camden residents living
immediately around the facility. The highest contributions were found
to occur at locations with 0.04km (1309 feet) of the facility piles."

According to Roy Jones, Co-Chair and Coordinator of the South
Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, "this means the neighborhood
nearest the facility receives the brunt of the pollution. This is
totally unacceptable and all of the groups represented here today agree
that the piles must be covered."

The Camden community and environmental groups credited Bill Wolfe of
the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility for ensuring the
report reached the public's eye.

President of the local
environmental advocacy group in Waterfront South, South Camden Citizens
in Action, Ms. Lula Williams said that the St. Lawrence Cement Plant
should not have been allowed to build a plant in this already
overburdened community. "My front porch bears evidence of the dust from
the plant and the level of pollution we experience. No longer is it
just our word versus that of St. Lawrence, the data in this report
confirms what we have been saying for years. Local leaders have allowed
Camden neighborhoods to be the dumping ground of facilities like St

Ms.Williams further commented that "Waterfront South is plagued by
many polluting sources, not the least of which is St Lawrence which
contributes to high rates of lung disease, asthma, and cancer in this

Jane Nogaki of the NJ Environmental Federation said "Waterfront
South residents have been literally plagued by breathing dust from St.
Lawrence Cement since the facility opened in 2002. Community and
environmental groups have repeatedly asked DEP to monitor the site for
dust and other pollutants. Now we find out DEP has finally conducted
the work that confirms even as it underestimates the problem but
withheld it from the community!"

"Trying to cover up even its admittedly weak conclusions
demonstrates DEP's and Governor Corzine's failure to address a very
basic need - the right to breathe clean air," Nogaki added. "It's time
for Governor Corzine to stop reneging on his commitment to alleviate
environmental racism and make good on his promise to 'just say no' to
more pollution in Camden and other places that suffer a
disproportionate amount of pollution."

"This cement plant
is a national disgrace. Not only does it symbolize environmental
racism, it proves its existence," said Jeff Tittel, Director of NJ
Sierra Club. "The plant should be shut down. The Governor and DEP must
now prove that they care more about protecting the public health of the
people of South Camden than protecting polluters."

Additional organizational representatives for today's event include
Marianna Emanuelle, Camden United, Dr. Nicky Sheats and Henry Rose, New
Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.

Read about NJDEP's alteration of the original study

See NJDEP's public announcement

Read the revised final report

Read peer review comments on the report

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.