SJEJA – Petty's Island Initiative

Petty’s Island is located in the Delaware north of East Camden

Petty’s Island is an island in the Delaware river off the coast of Camden City (see map), yet it is technically part of Pennsauken. Citgo Petroleum, which owns the island of 390+ acres with a defunct oil terminal and an active shipping firm, wants to give the site to the State of New Jersey. Jack McCrossin, a company spokesperson, said the firm wants to do an environmental clean-up and have the island preserved as a wildlife habitat. But, the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust (McGreevey Administration) blocked the gift (New York Times, 10/2/04) and sided with developers and Pennsauken officials who have unveiled a $1.3 billion plan to put luxury homes and a golf course on the island. (This plan has been scaled down since then. See, “Petty’s Island plan cuts land use in half,” Courier Post, 3/22/07)

Thus, Petty’s Island has been a contested battleground between Pennsauken township and environmentalists, who want it preserved. SJEJA and other environmental groups are advocating the State to take Citgo up on their offer to preserve. A huge array of wildlife was found on the island, including a bald eagle; this lends credence to the argument that this wildlife needs to be preserved, particularly when we have so little open space left in New Jersey. It could become a wonderful destination for school children and eco tourists to learn about South Jersey’s wildlife in its natural habitat. The island could become a environmental refuge for visitors with board walks, nature signs and naturalist’s educating us on the ecosystem we are all part of. Another recreational use would be bicycle and roller skating paths around the island which would give families and nature lovers enjoyment of the outdoors as well as exercise. But, there is another reason why this small island should be preserved for the public.

The Camden City African American Commission uncovered evidence that the island has a rich and diverse history. For example, Petty’s Island had been an early Native American settlement, the location where the German Charitable Society, founded in 1764, held a lottery to raise money for poor German immigrants in 1773, and most importantly, records revealed that the island had been a 17th century slave depot. The Commission argues that Petty’s Island should become a historical landmark in addition to the wildlife refuge and has filed and application for Petty’s Island to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With the help of Scribe, the Camden City African American Commission produced a documentary about the history of Petty’s Island as part of Scribe’s Precious Places Community History Project.
The 15 min. film is narrated by distinguished actor and social activist, Danny Glover.

Petty’s Island: An Untold History


The new documentary, “Petty’s Island: The Untold Story,” was produced by the Camden City African American Commission and the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia as part of Scribe’s Precious Places Community History Project.

“Petty’s Island” reveals a number of forgotten chapters in this little island’s history. Petty’s Island, now a defunct oil depot owned by Citgo Corporation, had been an early Native American settlement and was used in the 17th century as depot for enslaved Africans.

Although slavery in the North was less prominent, the documentary shows convincingly that slavery existed during the 17th century in Pennsylvania and trading links often had slavery connections. The traders brought their slaves to Petty’s Island instead of Philadelphia to avoid having to pay taxes.

Danny Glover with Mangaliso Davis


The film debut took place at the International House in Philadelphia on February 15, 2007 and was shown again at the Walt Whitman Center in Camden on February 20th.
>>> more

Walt Whitman Center for the Arts

V. I. P.s at the Petty’s Island film debut

>>> watch and listen to “All men are created equal” — mpg file, 19 MB, 54 sec. (Real Player)

By LAVINIA DeCASTRO (Courier Post, December 15, 2004)

Camden Community leaders join environmentalists in their fight against development of Petty’s Island in Pennsauken.

During a news conference at Camden’s Pyne Poynt Park, directly across from the densely wooded southern end of the 392-acre island, the activists announced they will file an application this week to have the island listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

SJEJA activists fighting for Petty’s Island

Pennsauken officials have been pushing for a billion-dollar revitalization project on the island. The proposed project includes homes, a hotel and golf course.

“I know that a lot of our opponents have said that Petty’s Island has no historic significance, but we differ on that,” said Mangaliso Davis, a Camden resident and member of the commission.

Members of the African American Commission and South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance said historic documents show that after the Native Americans who lived there sold the island to European settlers, slavers used it as a trading post.

“They would come here to buy the slaves at an auction and then transport them to Philadelphia,” said Roy Jones, a Camden resident and the alliance’s co-chairman. Holding copies of signs that advertised such auctions, the activists said traders avoided paying taxes by selling their slaves at Petty’s Island instead of Philadelphia.

“This is the first we’ve heard of any historic significance to Petty’s Island,” Pennsauken Mayor Rick Taylor said. “I’d like to see that documented.” Richard Ochab, spokesman for developer Cherokee Pennsauken, said: “Calls to place Petty’s Island on the National Historic Registry are recent and premature.” Ochab said a historical analysis of the site is under way as a standard part of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process. “Any site worthy of designation will be identified during the NJDEP’s well-established redevelopment and permitting process,” Ochab said.

Sharon Finlayson, chairwoman of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said environmentalists have collected more than 3,000 signatures in a petition to preserve the island. The island’s owner, CITGO Petroleum Corp., offered to donate Petty’s Island to the state as a nature preserve to protect a pair of nesting bald eagles and other wildlife. But the state’s Natural Lands Trust effectively rejected the offer on Sept. 30. “These eagles are protected,” said Robert Shinn, a representative of the Cooper River Watershed Association. “We’re concerned that of they develop this island, it will chase these eagles away.”

Last month, a U.S. District judge ordered CITGO to allow Cherokee Pennsauken, the township’s redevelopment agent, access to the island to begin environmental surveys preceding either a negotiated sale or condemnation of the island to make way for the project. Davis and Jones said houses built at Petty’s Island would sell for more than $250,000, creating an upscale community within a stone’s throw from one of the nation’s most impoverished cities.

“This would be basically a gated community,” Jones said. “The working class people of Camden and the working class people of Pennsauken will not be able to afford to live on this island. These communities are largely Hispanic and black, so effectively, they’re excluding people of color.”

But Taylor said the plan includes more than just high-end housing. Developers also want to include housing there for senior citizens, low income residents and first time home-buyers, Taylor said. “We don’t even have a final game plan,” Taylor said. “A lot of things must be done before we come up with a final plan, but we truly believe this will be good for the people of Pennsauken and the area.”
>>> read more (Courier Post)

Sierra Club Action Network: SAY NO TO SPRAWL

11/2004. Although the State of New Jersey has refused Citgo’s gift of 392-acre Petty’s Island in the Delaware River, the environmental community hasn’t given up! Citgo is now offering to give a conservation easement on the island to the federal government in partnership with one or more private land trusts for FREE and to clean up ALL contamination to government environmental standards. Citgo is also offering to donate $2 million to a land trust to manage and conserve the island. Taxpayers will not be liable for any environmental clean up costs. Almost 900 responded to our first Petty’s Island alert.

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

– back to top –

>>> back to SJEJA website

>>> to EJ for All website

South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance Home Page

SJEJA travels to Nairobi, Kenya to participate in the World Social Forum 2007

Four members of the South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance traveled to the World Social Forum in Kenya to present workshops on environmental justice issues, such as the dumping of toxins in low income communities of color and the struggles of agricultural farm workers in New Jersey.

They developed contacts and promised to shared information with people facing similar issues in very different parts of the world. For example, one of the outcomes is that CATA staff is translating pesticides labels from Chinese to English that South African farm workers can read the instructions. Learning how important school supplies were to children in Kenya, Olga Pomar sent a package of school supplies to Nairobi.

Being part of the World Social Forum was an rich, rewarding, and unforgettable experience. All our SJEJA participants agreed with Nelson Carrasquillo’s observation: “The opportunity to witness and understand the aspirations of people from other countries provided us with the opportunity to appreciate ourselves differently.”

The media reported that more than 70,000 participants came together in Nairobi. They were nuns, slum dwellers, academics, activists, Nobel Prize winners, students, trade unionists, NGO staffers and government officials including Kenneth Kaunda, the former President of Zambia among the more than 1,400 participating organizations from 110 countries. (Alternet)
>>> more on the WSF (Immanuel Wallerstein)

SJEJA Presenters:
R. Mongaliso Davis, Eleanor Vine, Nelson Carrasquillo, Olga Pomar

>>> more pictures from the WSF at Nairobi, Kenya

SJEJA Project: Nerve Gas

No VX Nerve Agent for New Jersey – First Environmental Victory for 2007
By Gina Carola, NJ Sierra Club, Delaware River Issues Coordinator

On January 5, DuPont of Deepwater NJ announced that the company was no longer pursuing the award of a contract from the U.S. Army to dispose of VX nerve gas hydrolysate, a by-product of the process of destroying stockpiles that are currently stored in Newport, Indiana. In announcing the decision, a DuPont spokesperson noted that the lengthy, arduous approval process and public opposition brought them to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of New Jersey and DuPont not to proceed. This victory did not come easily. Three years ago, when DuPont and the Army reached an agreement to ship the VX nerve agent from Indiana across several states to New Jersey for treatment, our Sierra Club Chapter joined with Delaware Riverkeeper, Green Delaware and Concerned Indiana Residents, and other groups, to defeat the project. Congressman Rob Andrews, D- NJ 1st Congressional District, was the first elected official to jump in to help the opposition and defend NJ’s environment and the health of the Delaware River eco-system. Congressmen Saxton and LoBiondo soon joined forces along with then-Senator Corzine. Our extreme gratitude goes out to these elected officials and to all who wrote a letter, made a phone call, attended a hearing or kept their friends and neighbors informed.

(The Jersey Sierran, Vol 36, No. 2, April-June 2007, page 2)

Update: Campaign to Block VX Nerve Gas Disposal in NJ
Thanks to the coordinated effort of environmental activists the U.S. Army’s plan to bring the deadly VX nerve agent to South Jersey for treatment is on hold. 14 organizations from four states were represented at an event in Deepwater, NJ where they spoke about the unnecessary risks of transporting the hydrolysate to treat it in New Jersey, and why destroying the hydrolysate safely in Indiana – as the Army had originally planned – is the better option. Support of three members of the New Jersey’s congressional delegation aided in delaying the Army’s plan. (See Jul-Sept 2006 issue of the Sierran for details on this project)

Congressmen Rob Andrews, D-Haddon Heights, Jim Saxton, R-Mount Holly, and Frank LoBiondo, R-Ventnor have prevailed in their efforts to attach an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that will delay the transport of the VX nerve agent until the Congressional General Accounting Office has had a chance to study the proposal. The GAO is a bipartisan, investigative arm of Congress.

>>> read more in The Jersey Sierran (Jan-Mar 07) by Gina Carola, Sierra Club, Delaware Issues Coordinator

Nerve Agent to be shipped to Deepwater, NJ

April 6, 2006.
Groups from 5 states unite in joint press events in Indiana and New Jersey, to oppose the U.S. Army’s plan to ship nerve agent hydrolysate form the Newport Army Depot in Indiana to a DuPont facility in Deepwater, New Jersey.  >>> FULL STORY

SJEJA – Healthy Schools Inititative

As stated in our mission, SJEJA aims to build alliances and coalitions to improve the health and physical environment for residents of poor and minority communities who are often burdened with toxic pollution that is detrimental to their health and well being. The Healthy Schools Initiative is an important part in this overall objective.

Camden, NJ has many serious social and environmental problems. It is well-documented that poverty rates are high and the overall achievement records of Camden schools are not acceptable. (See, Camden Kids Count) It is our goal to focus on health issues in schools.

The Camden County Department of Health and Human Services is aware of lead contamination associated with schools’ public water supply as well as air and noise pollution and other environmental issues that may lead to health problems or lower academic performance. The need to educate the school superintendents on the need to test the water supply for lead contamination, and if contaminated, assistance is available for remediation. >>> more

Camden Kids Count 2004, produced by CAMConnect in partnership with the Association for Children of New Jersey, provides an exellent snapshot of child well-being in one of New Jersey’s most impoverished cities. It is clear from the data that the children of this city are suffering from many disadvantages. For example the report reveals staggering statistics of concentrated poverty: “Camden City claims the highest percentage of children growing in poverty, when compared to every other city in the state. In 2000, 45 percent of the city’s total child population lived in families that lacked the resources to provide their basic needs. This exceeds the percent of children in poverty in 25 of New Jersey’s most impoverished cities, including Asbury Park (39%) and Newark (36%). The report links poverty data to school achievement as they claim: “Poverty Sets Stage for School Failure In the 2002-2003 school year, more than half of the city’s fourth-graders failed both the language arts (55.1%) and math (58.1%) portion of the statewide tests. Nearly threequarters failed the 8th grade language arts and math tests in the same year, while more than 85 percent failed the math test. More than 76 percent of 11th graders failed the math portion of the graduation tests, while 58 percent failed the language arts tests.”

>>> READ THE FULL REPORT (41 pages, pdf)

>>> compare the Camden Kids data to national statistics (AECF)

>>> see also our brochure from a previous SJEJA Planning Conference (11/2006)

>>> read Bill Wolfe’s “Tale of Two Toxic Schools” (NJ Voices, 2/20/2008)


Below are pictures from a well-attended EJ Conference, Common Ground, organized by Rutgers students. Many high schools students from the city and nearby towns attended the event as well as college students from New Brunswick and Newark. Many SJEJA members were invited presenters.

Rutgers-Newark student activists

Camden HS students listen to SJEJA speaker

Dr. Nogaki explains a scientific principle

SJEJA – other projects

Once again, New Jersey has been targeted by Pennsylvania as a dumping ground for area pollution.

Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell’s ill-conceived plan to dredge the Delaware River could result in an environmental catastrophe, according to environmental organizations.

According to a recent Associated Press report, a coal-fired power plant north of Easton, Pa., is releasing pollution downwind into the Garden State.

The river dredging project, according to environmental groups, could release pollutants into aquifers, threatening recovering aquatic wildlife species such as the horseshoe crab, and hurting local fisheries and the Delaware Bay economy.

As though that weren’t enough, a major polluter of New Jersey is the Reliant Energy power plant in Pennsylvania, which is running on an outmoded Environmental Protection Agency permit, according to the AP report.

New Jersey has announced its intent to sue the EPA for not enforcing pollution controls at the coal-fired power plant, whose emissions have contributed to unhealthy pollutant levels in counties in New Jersey.

I encourage Gov. Corzine and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews to continue to oppose any river dredging proposal since it threatens the fragile and recovering ecology of the Delaware River and also call upon Gov. Rendell to withdraw his support for the dredging proposal.

Michael Martin, Haddonfield

posted on April 4th, 2007 The Philadelphia Inquirer, South Jersey Commentary or

SJEJA – Water Quality

The Spring 2010 SJEJA Environmental Voice Bulletin features an in depth follow-up article on the PUchack Class Action Suit against the City of Camden.
>>> Read the Newsletter in English or in Spanish (word documents)

Water Quality Fact Sheets & Bulletins

Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station


Protect America’s water!

(Trade Observatory)

Public utilities provide the vast majority of water for American households. But utilities are struggling to come up with enough money to meet federal clean water standards, maintain pipes and modernize water systems.

Water is a public trust. Food and Water Watch is petitioning Congress to protect our water sources and keep our water clean and safe.

SJEJA – Farmer's Market

Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr. (Mickle) Blvd.

Starting again in the Spring…. Watch for news!

Every Friday, 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M., purchase and enjoy…

  • Jersey Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • Prepared Foods From Local Restaurants
  • Crafts- jewelry, dolls, candles and more
  • Fresh Baked Specialty Breads

The Camden Community Farmer’s Market is sponsored by the
Camden Area Health Education Center.


For information on the Camden Community Farmer’s Market, please contact Linda Boclair at (856) 963-2432 EXT 216
The Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is located on 514 Cooper Street, Camden, NJ 08102, 856-963-2432

SJEJA – Health Information on Asthma

Asthma Management (American Lung Association)

This website includes a wealth of information on Asthma and how to manage this condition.

Researchers Uncover Cause of Asthma (Research Matters, Harvard University)

Medical experts have been baffled by what causes asthma. Most of them favor the idea that it stems from “helper” cells that have gone awry. But researchers at Harvard Medical School have come up with convincing evidence that the answer lies in a special type of natural “killer” cell.

Getting to Know about Air Pollution (NJ DEP)

SJEJA – Teaching Tools: Powerpoint Presentations

This conference on environmental health at the University of Minnesota examined critical aspects of environments affecting the health and well-being of children from pre-conception to adolescence. Conference plenary and concurrent sessions were organized around three broad themes: the natural environment, the built environment and the social environment and around critical life stages. Special attention was given to the diverse social contexts in which children live, learn, and play.

Keynote address:

Environmental Justice for all Children by Robert Bullard
Overview of the environmental justice issues and children’s health, a narrated slide show by Dr. Robert Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) at Clark Atlanta University, email: [email protected]

Click here to view and listen to the PowerPoint presentation

Selected Presentations:

Learning Disabilities: Prevention, Identification and Treatment
Sensitive Brains – Exposure to Environmental Neurotoxins
Sensitive brains, lasting harm: environmental neurotoxins and learning and developmental disabilities
by Kitty Christensen
Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation

The DREAMS Project:
Social and Environmental Risks and Developmental Outcomes in Inner City Preschoolers
by Katherine Jordan and Steven Hughesy

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation

The Built Environment and Children’s Health :
How can we design for sustainability? by Christine Ziebold

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation

Visual Perceptions of an inner city childhood environment by Corliss Wilson Outley

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation

Rutgers Environmental Stewards Program

Rutgers Environmental Stewards Program provides training and experience which equips participants to contribute effectively to the process of finding solutions for environmental problems in the communities of New Jersey.

Health and the Indoor Environment
Lecturer: Dr. Joseph T. Ponessa (powerpoint presentation)

We spend about 90% of our time indoors at home, work and/or
school.Interiors have numerous synthetic products, materials and furnishings, and ventilation has been reduced from the abundant levels of the past. Thus, the potential for indoor pollution becomes a concern.

Health and the Indoor Environment Lecture Handout (powerpoint presentation in pdf)

This presentation discusses the most common and problematic indoor pollutants, covering such topics as lead, radon, asthma triggers and mold. Discussion includes how these pollutants may be detected and managed, and what the health risks are. Emphasis is placed on prioritizing these pollutants, identifying when they deserve our attention.

Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation

EPA Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. This site provides information about lead, lead hazards, and provides some simple steps to protect your family. >>> visit the website

Click here to view a PowerPoint presentation (EPA – 17 pages, pdf) )