EJ Tour of Camden, NJ – September 29, 2006

South Camden/Waterfront South is a desolate industrial section of Camden City with large numbers of known contaminated sites and many still-active polluting industries. Pockets of remaining residential neighborhoods are mixed throughout this industrial wasteland of at least seven scrap metal recyclers and junkyards, a petroleum coke transfer station, several auto body shops, a paint and varnish company, a chemical company and three food processing plants and the large and dusty G.P. Gypsum plant. Despite strong neighborhood opposition, Camden County has continued to use these neighborhoods as a dumping ground for undesirable and polluting facilities. The erection of the sewage treatment plant was followed by a regional trash-to-steam incinerator, one of the largest in the state, and by a cogeneration power plant in the early 1990s.

Studies show that this environmental injustice has taken a toll:
Residents of these polluted neighborhoods have unusually high rates of respiratory diseases, especially asthma. Camden City residents also have elevated rates of cancer of the lung, esophagus, stomach, liver, kidney, and pancreas. 

Let’s start our online EJ Tour of Camden now:




PORT TERMINALS – BECKETT – The South Jersey Port Corporation Terminals in Camden handle almost 3 1/2 million tons of cargo per year. There are approximately 28 businesses leasing property at the two terminals.  Beckett Terminal, nearer the downtown district, has docking facilities that accommodate large vessels for shipments of materials, such as the barges delivering blast furnace slag for the St. Lawrence Cement Company.

ART METALCRAFT PLATING CO., 529 S. 2ND ST. – This electroplating steel and brass operation opened in 1949 and employs approximately 10 people. It uses some hazardous substances, including trivalent chromium, cyanide, zinc, cadmium, and lead into the sewer system. Its air emissions include hydrogen cyanide, soluble nickel and zinc.

, 941 S. 2ND ST. – This aluminum smelter and processor began operations in 1977.  It produces aluminum ingots with various alloys, obtaining the scrap aluminum it uses from area scrap dealers.  The scrap is sorted, passed through a shredder and furnace, and trace metals such as copper, manganese, magnesium, nickel, chromium are added to make the alloy.  The facility emits fine particulates, VOCs, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, metals, PCBs, and ammonia. It also generates some hazardous waste from dust, waste oil, and equipment. It was cited by the DEP in 2002 and in 1992 for exceeding its permitted emission limits. The DEP’s Air Toxic Study modeling results showed that it contributed to high levels of particulates, nickel, and dioxin.

, 2nd AND SPRUCE – This is an electric power generation facility, using liquefied petroleum gas. It also emits air pollutants including fine particulates and VOCs.

CAMCORE – 260 CHESTNUT ST. – This is an aluminum smelting operation which emits fine particulate, chlorine, chromium, metals, ethylene, and toluene.

DURO PLATING, 273 KAIGHN AVE – An electroplating business which emits cadmium and hydrogen cyanide.

CENTRAL METALS, 1054 S. 2ND ST. This is the site of a metal processing company.

GEORGIA PACIFIC GYPSUM CORPORATION, 1101 SO. FRONT ST.  This is a “major facility” which has been in operation since 1962.  It was acquired by Georgia Pacific in 1996.  The facility manufactures various types of gypsum wall board products, gypsum rock, and ground and calcined gypsum.  The facility emits over 85 tons per year of nitrogen oxides, 123.4 tons of sulfur dioxide, almost 4 tons of VOC’s, 12.49 tons per year of carbon dioxide, and 37.33 tons per year of PM-10. Its hazardous air pollutants include arsenic, barium cadmium, chlorine, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, selenium, and formaldehyde. It also uses numerous hazardous substances in its production process, such as VOC’s, portland cement, and acetylene.  In 2002 it was fined for exceeding its allowable particulate emission levels. The DEP’s Air Toxic Study flagged it as a major contributor of particulate pollution, arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

CAMDEN IRON & METAL, FRONT AND ATLANTIC – This company is the largest scrap metal operation in South Camden.  It has two sites along the River, at Pine and at Atlantic. The company crushes and shreds automobile parts and materials and other metals for resale and reuse. Its shredder and frag division alone, on Front and Atlantic Sts, produces 150-170 tons/day, or 35,000 tons/year of automobile shredder fluff. In 1990, DEP discovered that this site was contaminated w/ PCB’s, hydrocarbons, cadmium, and lead.  Although the topsoil was eventually removed, the area remains deed restricted, meaning that it does not meet environmental standards for residential and certain other uses. The operations cause significant air emissions, including fine particulates, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chlorine, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, and VOCs. According to the DEP’s Air Toxic Study, the emissions potentially create unsafe levels of PM 2.5, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel in the area near the facility.

PEERLESS CASTING, 250 MECHANIC – An aluminum processor which emits pollutants including fine particulates, chlorine, chromium, metals, and VOCs.

PLASTICS CONSULTING – 1431 FERRY AVENUE – This company does coating and engraving. It emitted large amounts of lead, resulting in potentially unsafe lead levels in the air, but recently has moved its sandblasting operation indoors to reduce emissions. Its other emissions include fine particulates and VOCs.

R. FANELLE’S – FERRY AVENUE – This scrap metal recycler’s two facilities on Ferry Ave. are more examples of the proliferation of scrap recyclers and junkyards in this area.  Automobiles are crushed on site, releasing visible dust emissions.  The company was cited by the DEP for failing to develop a plan to protect against storm runoff and soil and groundwater contamination.

NATIONAL PAPER RECYCLING – 1537 FERRY AVE – The facility recycles cardboard, paper, and plastic brought in by trash trucks. It then ships the materials to New York and oversees where they are made into toilet paper, napkins, and other paper products.

CAMDEN COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITIES AUTHORITY (CCMUA). This large regional sewage treatment plant treats all of the sewage from 32 of Camden County’s 37 municipalities, serving a population of close to 500,000. The facility cost $850 million.  Ninety miles of pipes and 5 pumping stations deliver the sewage to the facility. The CCMUA treats 58 million gallons of sewage per day, including both household and “pre-treated” industrial waste.  Until recently, the CCMUA operated a sludge composting facility on site, but closed it due to financial considerations.  The sewage treatment plant, and particularly the composting facility, has caused horrific sewage odors in the Waterfront South neighborhood and elsewhere throughout the City for years.  In 1998, a resident group brought a citizen enforcement action against the facility for odor violations, and obtained a settlement through which the CCMUA agreed to do close to $5 million worth of odor control upgrades. Although best known for foul odors, the plant also emits particulate matter, hydrogen sulfide, choloroform, and various VOCs. >>> read more

CONTAINER RECYCLERS, 301 WINSLOW STREET – This company cleans and recycles plastic barrels that stored hazardous substances, mostly paint containers that are cleaned with sodium hydrochloride and painted. Its air emissions consist of VOCs, titanium dioxide and xylene.

WELSBACH/GENERAL GAS MANTLE SUPERFUND SITE, 4TH/JEFFERSON – A manufacturer of gas lantern mantles operated on this site from 1915 to 1940.  The mantles were dipped in thorium, a radioactive material, to make them glow more brightly.  Workers spread the radioactive materials to their homes, and wind blew contaminated soil into neighboring backyards.  After the manufacturing businesses closed down, the site was used as a warehouse.  In 1981, the DEP discovered radioactive hot spots in the area and in neighboring Gloucester City, where a similar facility was located.  No action was taken for eleven years, and warehouse employees continued to be exposed to radon gas and to track the contaminated materials.  In 1991 DEP began its investigation. Extensive soil testing was conducted over a period of several years, and showed the presence of “hot spots” in homes and backyards as well as on the factory site.  DEP finally relocated the warehouse business and one neighboring household in 1992. The site was placed on the National Priority List, and in 1999 the EPA issued a decision that it would remove all contaminated soil. The factory was torn down in 2000.  Eight families continued living on neighboring Arlington St. until the DEP assisted them in relocating in 2002. 239 properties in Waterfront South listed as suspect properties and 17 were listed as potentially contaminated. The site is still awaiting full clean-up.  EPA has spent $65 to 70 million on the section of the site located in Gloucester City, but only $1.5 million in Camden. The EPA has estimated that the increased cancer risk from exposure to the radioactivity for area persons who lived in the area for 30 years is 1.8% (or 1.8 in 100; the EPA considers an “acceptable” risk to be between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000,000).

AMERICAN MINERALS, JEFFERSON STREET – This facility in the Port area grinds zircon and pyrite shipped to Beckett Terminal and ships the product all over the world. It was one of the most significant sources of fine particulates in South Camden, until it recently upgraded its emission controls.

MCANDREW FORBES (MAFCO), 3RD AND JEFFERSON – This company is a licorice flavoring manufacturer, emitting fine particulates, ammonia, and propylene glycol.

ST. LAWRENCE CEMENT (BROADWAY TERMINAL) – This cement grinding facility annually processes 848,771 tons of blast furnace slag, a byproduct of steel manufacturing, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.    The facility emits 100 tons per year of pollutants, almost 60 tons of which are inhalable particulates, and approximately 30 tons of which is the most dangerous finest size particulates (PM-2.5).  The cement company operations also generated up to 77,000 diesel truck trips per year during its first few years of operation.  The DEP identified it during the Air Toxics Study as a significant contributor to unacceptably high particulate levels in the vicinity of the cement plant. The company is presently seeking modification to its permit to allow it process a higher volume of slag and create larger temporary storage piles.

COGEN POWER PLANT, CHELTON/BROADWAY.  This co-generation power plant emits significant amounts of particulates (47 tons/year), sulfur dioxide (36 tons/year), nitrogen oxides (239 tons/year), carbon monoxide (39 tons/year), hydrocarbons (26 tons/year), ammonia, toluene, and other pollutants.  It was built in the early 1990’s, soon after the incinerator.  

>>> read more

>>> DEP Program for Waterfront South residents to “reduce childhood asthma symptoms and improve the quality of life of asthmatic children.”

HOSPITAL LAUNDRY SERVICE, 2224 BROADWAY – This is a laundry service which adds to air emissions of particulates, metals, and chlorine.

PORT TERMINALBROADWAY –  The Broadway Terminal includes a large industrial area, where various businesses are located. Several of the Port’s occupants, including Alnort Corporation (now closed), Camden Iron and Metal, and Joseph Oats Corporation (company that fabricates containers for nuclear waste storage), have been cited in the past by the DEP for illegal discharges of hazardous substances. A new pier at Broadway Terminal has recently been constructed to allow ships to unload at the Terminal. >>> a different point of view (South Jersey Port Corporation)

AIR PRODUCTS AND CHEMICALS, 2710 BROADWAY – This company produces and fills liquid nitrogen, oxygen, argon, helium, and carbon dioxide tanks.

INCINERATOR (CAMDEN COUNTY RESOURCE RECOVERY FACILITY), 600 MORGAN BLVD –  This trash-to- steam incinerator processes up to 1050 tons per day, or 451,140 tons per year of municipal, bulky, vegetative, and certain types of dry industrial waste. It is allowed to emit over 900 tons/year of nitrogen dioxide, 186 tons/year of carbon monoxide, 213 tons/year of sulfur dioxide, 126 tons/year of cancer-causing hazardous pollutants, including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, and mercury, and 44 tons/year of fine particulates.  Trash is brought to the facility by diesel trucks, with more than 200 deliveries occurring daily. The inhalable particulate readings at the air pollution monitor at the facility are among the highest in the state. >>> read more

COLONIAL PROCESSING, 1930 SO. 6TH ST/VIOLA –  This facility manufactures welding and soldering equipment and does metal coating and engraving.  The process involves chemical cleaning and pickling of steel with sulfuric acid, abrasive cleaning and painting using industrial coatings. Its emissions include fine particulates and VOCs. It has been fined for technical violations regarding storage and labeling of hazardous wastes. The DEP also found during its Air Toxics Study that it potentially caused exceedences of the PM 2.5 standard in the vicinity of the facility.

CLEMENT COVERALL, 619-32 CARL MILLER BLVD – This site was left contaminated when the paint and varnish company that was housed there went bankrupt in 1994.  Some soil was removed in 1990 after a petroleum spill.  Additional clean-up was conducted during a CERCLA action in 1995-96, but the site has not been remediated.  Contaminants in the soil include VOC’s, chromium, and arsenic; naphthalene, lead and chromium was found in the groundwater. The remedial investigation has already cost $274,000+ and an additional $286,000+ has been requested for further analysis.  The total costs of cleanup are unknown.

COMARCO, 501 JACKSON STREET – (above left) Located next door to the Martin Aaron Superfund site, this pork processing company emits fine particulates and lead.

, 1542 BROADWAY –  This 2.4 acre area was used for the past 30 years by companies which reconditioned drums containing hazardous materials.  The drums were drained and washed with a caustic solution, with runoff collected in basins. Containers leaked onto the ground.  Liquid and solid hazardous waste and up to 1,000 waste containers were illegally buried on the property. The company was repeatedly cited by DEP during the 1980’s and 1990’s for discharges of hazardous substances, but was allowed to continue to operate.  It finally went out of business in 1998. The entire site and the surface groundwater was eventually contaminated with VOCs, PCB’s, arsenic, cadmium, and lead.  The contamination has even spread to adjoining properties.  The building on the property was torn down and the surface soil removed and replaced, but the groundwater contamination is continuing to spread and could eventually affect the water quality in nearby City wells. The EPA has adopted a clean up plan which calls for partial removal of contaminated soil, and capping, with the site being restricted to industrial use.

BROADWAY FINISHING – 1621 BROADWAY – An industrial paint shop, this company emits methyl ethyl ketone, toluene, and xylene.

INNOVATIVE RECOVERY METALS, 1500 SOUTH 6TH AT ATLANTIC  – Another large scrap metal operation, it causes emissions of fine particulates, chlorine, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc.

SL SURFACE TECHNOLOGIES. 6TH/ATLANTIC – This chromium plating facility has been in operation since the 1940’s.  It plates large feed rollers for corrugated paper industry.  Rollers are degreased, stripped in a hydrochloric acid tank, and sand basted, then plated using chromic acid bath.  An ion-exchange process is used to recover hexavalent chromium from wastewater washing. Its tanks contain 12,000 gallons of liquid hexavalent chromium. Its air emissions include hexavalent chromium, other chromium, metals, and small amounts of particulates. It also generates hazardous waste including 30,000 lbs./year solid chromium waste and corrosive waste from its stripping solution and plating tanks. 

CWS INDUSTRIES, 726 KAIGHN AVE – This electroplating polishing, and anodizing operation uses various hazardous substances including hydrocholoric acid, nickel, sodium cyanide, and lead. During its comprehensive enforcement sweep, the DEP issued 7 major violations to this company for improper handling and storage of hazardous waste and failure to obtain proper licensing as a hazardous waste generator. The total fines were $65,000. Its air emissions include particulates and cadmium.


GREENWAYS TRAILS. A local non-profit is spearheading an effort to protect Camden City waterways and develop a system of parks and access trails that would provide public access to the rivers while preserving them as a natural resource. The trails would link to other greenways trails in other municipalities. Farnham Park in the Parkside neighborhood and the riverfront near Campbell Soup headquarters would be part of that greenways system.

CAMDETT CORPORATION, 1501 PINE ST. – This company was involved in chemical manufacturing, including ammonium polyphosphate which requires use of ammonia. It was located right next to the Camden Early Childhood Development Center, and is also close to residences.  In 2001 the facility emitted 124,000 pounds of air pollutants, making it the second largest air polluter in the county for that year. In 2002 the DEP fined the company $35,000 for emitting ammonia levels approximately 2,000 times the allowable permit limit and emitting nitrogen oxides almost 1,000 times the allowable permit limit.  Ammonia and nitrogen oxides combine to form nitric acid, and with other compounds to form dangerous fine particulates.  Nitric acid and these particulates affect respiratory function, causing damage to lung tissue, aggravation of emphysema, bronchitis, and heart disease, and premature death. Nitrogen oxide also contributes interacts to ozone formation, acid rain, and global warming. The company closed operations in 2005.

MONSANTO SITE.  This vacant area near the River is an abandoned industrial site that has not been remediated.

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT CENTER. This educational facility is part of the Camden public school system and provided head start and early education to pre-school age children. It was closed and slated to be rebuilt as part of the School Construction Corporation project, the largest public works project in New Jersey’s history, with $8.6 billion allocated to build and renovate schools in the state’s poorest educational districts. The SCC quickly ran out of funds after completing only a fraction of the approved projects, raising charges of widespread waste and corruption. The ECDC was one of the five schools in Camden City for which funding was still available. Construction of the new school was stopped, however, when arsenic was discovered in the soil in the area around the school. A plan has been proposed for partial clean up and capping of the site.

LANNING SQUARE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 5th AND BERKLEY STREETS – This elementary school has been listed as a known contaminated site since 1995. It was closed in 2002 because it was discovered that it was structurally unsound and in imminent danger of collapse. The school was supposed to be rebuilt through the SCC project, but after the SCC ran out of money, there were no funds left to rebuild this school and 33 other Camden City schools that were slated for renovation or replacement. The students at Lanning Square school have been transferred to two other elementary schools, and the site remains unremediated.

>>> download a FACT SHEET of Camden’s Environmental Conditions

>>> watch a Video from the Camden EJ Tour

On the EJ bus in Camden

Roy Jones, SJEJA
(with microphone)

SJEJA leaders and Olga Pomar

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