Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders
94 Market Street. Salem, N.J. 08079

CONTACT: Rita Shade Simpson,
Clerk of the Board/Administrator

September 23, 2002


SALEM – Freeholder Director Dave Sparks said today (Monday) the County has removed a legal obstacle that resulted, in part, in Quinton Township’s reluctance to assume ownership of an abandoned tire site known as the Brown Property. The Brown Property is one of the largest abandoned tire sites in the New Jersey.

"Quinton Township is rightly concerned about several liability issues involving the tire clean-up at the Brown Property," said Sparks. "One of Quinton’s concerns was that if the township took ownership of the Brown Property in order to receive a $721,000 clean-up grant, and that grant was not sufficient to complete the clean-up, then the township could face environmental enforcement actions."

Sparks said this concern is a legitimate one, as environmental enforcement actions can carry hefty penalties and fines.

"But we are assuring Quinton that the Salem County Department of Health will not cite the township as long as it has an agreement with DEP and makes a good faith effort to clean up the abandoned tire site," said Sparks.

The State Department of Environmental Protection agreement has not yet been signed by the township. The Agreement promises not to pursue penalties while efforts to clean-up the site continue, but it still requires the municipality to take ownership of the site.

Sparks said there is not one municipality in the state that wants to take ownership of abandoned tire sites due to liability issues,

"DEP assures us it is attempting to revise its regulations, but it has not yet done so," said Sparks. "The ownership requirement to receive the grant is a major obstacle. We hope that the County’s assurances to not pursue penalties will alleviate some of Quinton’s liability concerns so that the clean-up can resume under the newly-awarded grant."

In a letter to Quinton Mayor James Kates, the County said it would not take any environmental health enforcement actions against the Township during the tire clean-up process, as along as the Township agrees to try to find additional grant funds if the $721,000 is not enough. The County also said it wants the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to make the same commitment.

Fred Laning, Salem County Director of Health and Senior Services, said Quinton Township, with the assistance of the Salem County Utilities Authority, has made more progress than other clean-up sites in the Cumberland-Salem region.

"The County is very grateful that funds are available to help with the monumental task of cleaning up the Brown Property. More than 3.5 million abandoned tires are on the site, and 537,000 have been removed so far," said Laning. "We do not want to impede the cleanup. We want to alleviate the Township’s fears of being bankrupted with fines because it chose to do the right thing."

The letter that stipulates the County’s position was sent to Quinton under the signature of Salem County Health Officer Herbert Roeschke.

"Abandoned tires are breeding sites for mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus," said Roeschke. "The Salem/Cumberland West Nile Task Force has targeted abandoned tire removal in its effort to combat the virus."

The Salem County Mosquito Commission, which is part of the Task Force, continues to spray the Brown Property to reduce the breeding habitat.

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