SJEJA – Camden Waterfront South

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.

>>> take an online EJ tour of South Camden/Waterfront South

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. 

Camden Waterfront South Air Toxics Pilot Project

The NJ DEP’s EJ Program did an extensive series of studies and risk assessments of Waterfront South in Camden, NJ. On this website are many reports from 1991 – 2005)

Camden Waterfront South Air Toxic Pilot Project Frequently Asked Questions (January 2004)

Camden Waterfront South Air Toxic Pilot

Project Final Report

(August 2005)

South Camden is exposed to the highest air toxics exposures in New Jersey. The study employed a suite of inventory, modeling and monitoring methods to identify exposure to air toxics in the neighborhood.  The study also generated a set of risk reduction strategies. South Camden was already an area of concern as an Environmental Justice community. The Final Report, published in August 2005, is available on the Internet (pdf file – 80 pages). The author of the report is Joann Held, Project Manager, Bureau of Air Quality Evaluation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 027, Trenton, NJ 08625; telephone number (609) 633-1110.

Risk Assessment for Toxic Air Pollutants: A Citizen’s Guide

“The toxic air pollutants of greatest concern are those that cause serious health problems or affect many people. Health problems can include cancer, respiratory irritation, nervous system problems, and birth defects. Some health problems occur very soon after a person inhales a toxic air pollutant. These immediate effects may be minor, such as watery eyes. Or they may be serious, such as life-threatening lung damage. Other health problems may not appear until many months or years after a person’s first exposure to the toxic air pollutant. Cancer is one example of a delayed health problem. “

>>> READ THE FULL REPORT (EPA, March 1991)


  Spatial Variation of Volatile Organic Compounds in a “Hot Spot” in New Jersey
Zhi-Hua (Tina) Fan Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute

UMDNJ – Rutgers

The spatial variations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were characterized in the Village of Waterfront South neighborhood (WFS), a “hot spot” for air toxics in Camden, NJ. This was accomplished by conducting “spatial saturation sampling” for 11 VOCs using passive samplers at 22 sites in WFS and 16 sites in Copewood/Davis Streets neighborhood (CDS), an urban reference location. Sampling durations were 24 and 48 hours. For all 3 sampling campaigns (2 in summer and 1 in winter), spatial variations and mean concentrations of toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (TEX) were found significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the “hot spot”, WFS, than in CDS, where the spatial distributions of these compounds were relatively uniform. The highest concentrations of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) (maximum of 159 µg/m3) were always found at one site close to a facility in WFS during all 3 sampling campaigns. Poo r corr elation was found between TEX and MTBE in WFS but high correlation was observed among these species in CDS. These observations indicated significant impact from local stationary sources on the ambient levels of TEX and MTBE in WFS but mobile sources for these pollutants in CDS. The spatial variation of benzene in WFS was found to be marginal higher (p = 0.057) than in CDS during one sampling campaign, but similar in the other two sampling periods. A correlation of R > 0.8 was found between benzene and MTBE in both areas, suggesting benzene being primarily emitted from mobile sources. The low concentrations of chloroform (0.02-0.23 µg/m3) and carbon tetrachloride (0.45-0.51 µg/m3) and homogenous spatial distributions (%RSD < 24%) of these two species indicated contribution from regional background in both WFS and CDS. Proximity analysis results showed that the inverse distances to local roads contributed significantly to the variability (1-41%) of M TBE an d BTEX in CDS. In contrast, only the inverse distances to industrial sources were found to be significant predictors for the variability (16-46%) of these compounds in WFS. Wind speed and temperature were found to affect the concentrations and spatial distribution of VOCs significantly. Further, results showed that the sampling at the fixed monitoring site underestimated air pollutant levels in a small community, particularly in a “hot spot” area. The study demonstrated that the “spatial saturation sampling” can provide robust data for conducting accurate assessment of local community air pollution, helping to identify potential sources of concerns, is cost effective, timely and a valuable approach for future air pollution and exposure research in communities.

Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University (last retrieved 04/02/2008 )

Note: This presentation reports findings from a Health Effects Institute (HEI)- funded project, “Personal and Ambient Exposures to Air Toxics in Camden New Jersey” – Dr. Paul J. Lioy, P.I. 12/03-12/06 $864,347 Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, (EOHSI)

Personal Exposures to and Spatial Variations of Air Toxics in a “Hot Spot” in Camden, New Jersey. PJ Lioy, Z Fan, J Zhang, P Georgopoulos, SW Wang, PA Ohman, JL Held, and LJ Bonanno — Read abstract of findings

For more information on Mobile-Source Air Toxics and Health Effects, click here!

Fighting for Air

by Olga Pomar

South Camden residents have organized themselves and forged alliances with others to put polluters on notice and prepare for the battles that lie ahead. … South Camden Citizens In Action (SCCIA) came together in 1997 when a local nonprofit organization in Waterfront South decided to sponsor a grassroots neighborhood planning project. Its members were mostly African-American, mostly women, all low-income and some in poor health. They were not experienced activists, but they were long-time residents of Camden and shared a commitment to making their community safer and more livable.