Dozens of protesters gathered in North Bergen outside of Lincoln Recycling on Dell Ave., formally known as Liez Associates/ Eagle Recycling of New Jersey, to protest the alleged illegal use of asbestos fibers – though the township says these claims have no merit.
By Katherine Guest/Hudson County View
A majority of the Hispanic protestors accused Mayor Nick Sacco of discriminating against them for allowing Eagle Recycling to remain open after receiving citations for safety violations from the NJ DEP, US EPA, and H.C. R. C. (Hudson County Regional Health Commission) since May 2009.
North Bergen spokesman Phil Swibinski said the facts in this issue are being skewed.
“North Bergen acted aggressively fine, sanction, and when necessary, Eagle Recycling, whenever it was jurisdictionally appropriate. The township issued Eagle a fine of over $100,000 in October 2012, and since then, the company went bankrupt and is operating under completely different leadership.”
“The community is tired of poison being brought into this town. The EPA and DEP have proven that there’s asbestos in the Lincoln recycling building and radioactive material has been in this building for the past 15 years. Everyone is really diminishing in health. If you talk to the neighbors, each of them has their own horror story,” said James Michael De Los Santos, 27, of North Bergen.
“Based on frequent DEP visits from the state, there has never been one documented case of asbestos. Anyone who says otherwise is lying,” Swibinski added.
Unlike Eagle Recycling, that filed for bankruptcy in April 2013, Lincoln Recycling – who has a completely new management team – underwent $2.5 million worth of improvements. One of the improvements consisted of an additional surfacing to the parking lot closest to residents to reduce dust particles.
Eagle and Lincoln Recycling have two completely different owners, while some employees from the previous recycling plant remain at Lincoln.
In a letter from Lincoln Recycling to the township of North Bergen, the recycling plant stated how they “have limited the amount of material [their] customers bring in when [they] have had CSX service failures in an effort to keep the amount of material in the building at a manageable level.”
“If you go around the houses you’ll find dust particles streamlining the tile boards which come from the recycling plant,” said Odemaris Ramirez, 50, a former board of education candidate – also the Republican Freeholder candidate running against the Sacco-backed Democratic candidate – Anthony Vainieri – in November.
Protestors vocalized their concerns with chants like: “As our lungs get sicker, Sacco’s wallet gets thicker,” at the protest on 4711 Dell Avenue.
In April 2011, Eagle Recycling’s New York facility pleaded guilty in the federal courts of Utica, NY, for the Clean Water Act violation scheme, as well as fraudulence of documentation. In Frankfort, NY, the recycling plant agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to pay for restoration costs of farmer’s property.
Some protesters at the rally surrounding the recycling plant said they are in the process of gathering medical records, obtaining an attorney, and filing a class action lawsuit, residents at the protest told Hudson County View.
Mario M. Blanch, an attorney who is a member of the North Bergen Concerned Citizens Group (a vocal anti-Sacco group), has written a formal letter to Bob Martin – the Commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Protection – requesting an investigation.