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The Toxic Truth: Leaky Tanks Are ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ in New Jersey

Thousands of contaminated sites around the state still await cleanup – and many don’t even have cleanup plans

It’s a familiar sight in the Garden State – a former gas station or some other commercial property that’s fenced off and posted as the site of ongoing environmental remediation.

Last year, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection logged 5,036 cleanups at underground storage tank sites. But the agency also discovered and added 4,928 new sites to the list — which now totals about 14,000. Of those about 10,000 are assigned for cleanup to private engineers called LSRPs — Licensed Site Remediation Professionals.

It’s the thousands of unassigned sites — and the still-undiscovered ones — that pose the biggest worry.


“Underground storage tanks are an environmental ticking time bomb," says Doug O'Malley of Environment NJ.

A federal EPA survey showed “recalcitrant responsible parties” accounted for about a third of New Jersey’s remediation backlog in 2011.

Read the full report by NJTV, a content partner of NJ Spotlight, in the final installment of a three-part series on the issue of contamination from leaking underground storage tanks and their impact on the Garden State’s residents and environment.

This story is part of Dirty Little Secrets, a series investigating New Jersey’s toxic legacy. Participating news partners include New Jersey Public Radio/WNYC, WHYY, NJTV, NJ Spotlight, Jersey Shore Hurricane News, WBGO, New Brunswick Today, and the Rutgers Department of Journalism and Media Studies. The collaboration is facilitated by The Center for Investigative Reporting, with help from the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State and support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to CIR.

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