Cramer Hill: Dusty Paradise
The Cramer Hill cement recycling plant did not want to comment, while the authorities have yet to confirm if there is a case pending against the establishment; neighbors request that it be shut down.
No matter how many times the residents of Cramer Hill clean their homes, they will always be dusty.
“My God! I cleaned it yesterday and today it is dirty again”, said Josefina Rolón, who, along with her husband Orlando, can see the clouds of dust begin their travels through the neighborhood from their window.
Those living in this Camden neighborhood complain of the problems associated with living in houses located a few meters from River Front Recycling, a cement recycling plant.
“I think the city should take human health more into consideration than recycling”, Orlando Rolon, 72, said. “Everyone’s always coughing because of the dust.”
The Rolon family has lived here for 35 years, but during the last five have seen a decrease not only in their quality of life but also in their own health.
“This used to be a Paradise because the dust didn’t come this way”, he said. “Now it has become hell because it is constantly burning.”
Their neighbor, Ángel Luis Rivera, like them, complains about the way the recycling plant sends dust clouds in the environment.
“When the wind blows, it becomes a curtain of dust,” he said. “All this dust seeps into the house and one must clean up everything.”
Even as the interviews were being held for this story, the dust could be felt seeping into one's nose, mouth, eyes, causing irritation and sneezing.
Rivera, who works for another recycling plant in the city, indicated that the way in which River Front processes the materials is inadequate and that such emissions are dangerous for people’s health.
These risks have already been detected by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which since 2002 to this date has reported 113 violations committed by the company, 24 of which were sorted out without receiving any fines.
The remaining violations ascend to a sum of $45,000 and are still pending, according to the information obtained from the DEP web site http://datamine2.state.nj.us/dep/DEP_OPRA/.
“We have found water, soil and air violations”, Larry Hajna, NJDEP spokesperson said.
Hajna said measures are being taken to resolve this situation for the Cramer Hill resident's benefit.
“That is our priority, and that is why we have begun a process to issue a mutual consent administrative order,” he said.
He limited the information to stating that such process includes meetings between the state environmental authorities and the company to find solutions, but did not provide a date for the situation to change.
Camden Council President, Angel Fuentes, who also resides in Cramer Hill, said that he is aware of his neighbors’ complaints.
“We are pressing the administration because this industry affects our people,” he said. “We do not know what materials are there or what we are breathing.”
He is preparing a resolution to require the state to investigate and establish the risk that the residents of Cramer Hill are exposed to.
He also said that the recycling plant’s presumed use of the public roads, where traffic is prohibited, shall be investigated.
For its part, the city’s Department of Code Enforcement is already taking measures regarding this issue. Iraida Afanador, Director of the Department, did not comment, however, so as not to affect the measures taken by the Department against the recycling plant.
With similar secrecy, Dennis Bunks, River Front Recycling sales representative, stated that no comments could be provided regarding the situation affecting those who are forced to live with the dust emissions this company produces.