MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ (NewsNation) — Residents in Monmouth County, New Jersey, have been warned about potentially toxic chemicals as the Environmental Protection Agency investigates leaking chemicals at a closed industrial plant that were found after firefighters found materials on fire at the site.
Everyone living or working within a mile of the old and now defunct Compounders Inc. chemical plant has been warned to be on high alert and ready to evacuate their homes and places of business at a moment’s notice.
The site in Farmingdale, which has been closed for years, is highly toxic and if a significant fire were to break out, officials are worried toxins from the site could pollute the air and cause a catastrophe.
In February, the site’s new owner called firefighters to extinguish a small fire inside a silo that was being used to burn old materials. Firefighters noticed hundreds of 55-gallon drums and thousands of plastic containers on the property. Some of the drums were rusting and leaking an unknown substance that had a strong chemical odor.
The EPA was called in to begin carefully removing the drums and containers. It’s a delicate operation that requires EPA officials to test the chemicals one drum and one container at a time to determine what the chemical is, whether is it dangerous, and how it should be properly disposed of.
People living within the one-mile “hot zone” near the site expressed frustration at a town hall meeting last month, blaming township officials for not doing enough to inform people about the site and its potential danger and possible threats to their health.
“My major concern is the contaminants on this site, are there solids, are there liquids, are there volatiles, I don’t have the answer and from what I understand, you guys don’t have it either because you haven’t done the study to determine anything,” one resident said.
The EPA has set up air monitors around the site to detect any release of toxins. Township officials said residents and businesses should have their own evacuation plan should the monitors signal trouble.
The EPA believes it could have the site cleaned up by the end of summer at the latest. Meanwhile, people in the community said they won’t be fully satisfied until they know what’s inside those containers and drums.