Public health should come first

Public health should come first

Public health
should come first

Local environmental groups and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th District) got it right when they said that more than monitoring is necessary on the 3,200-acre site of the county’s former Raritan Arsenal.

In theory, when a private corporation pollutes a piece of property, the firm has to pay to clean it up. The same principle should apply to the Army, which stored weapons on the Raritan Arsenal site from 1917 to 1963. The Army’s activities left the site contaminated, so the Army should remove any and all sources of soil and groundwater pollution that remain.

Bob Spiegel, the executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, was on target when he said, "When it comes to building bombs and waging war, the military has all the money in the world. But when it comes to cleaning up their toxic messes and protecting human health, there’s not a dime to be found."

That’s a shame.

The federal government spends billions and billions on military operations overseas.

The costs to clean up former military sites within our own borders is not one that should fall by the wayside for lack of funds. The Americans who live and work on and around sites contaminated with dangerous material deserve better.

An especially close eye should be kept on promises to monitor the indoor air quality in buildings on top of the highly contaminated portions of the former arsenal property.

Right now, the Army says the contamination poses no known health risks to those on and around the site. But, as James Moore, the Army’s project manager for the Raritan site, points out, there are no specific guidelines for determining nonresidential indoor air quality.

When it comes to potential health risks, the government should play it safe and remove the source of the problem.