Concerns arise over contamination from Hoffman Laroche pharmaceutical site in Nutley
NUTLEY - The closing of a Nutley pharmaceutical plant is causing concern among residents in the surrounding community.
The Hoffman Laroche plant is closing for good and many are worried about ground pollution and water runoff that will remain long after the doors are closed.
Karen Schaller worked there for years and lives right next to the plant. "They're doing all this work on the soil but none of these properties have been tested," she says.
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Laroche is testing the ground within 200 feet of its plant and Schaller's home falls in that grid, but she's concerned that they will miss contamination that falls just outside that limit.
Hoffman Laroche has construction and possibly cleanup equipment on site, and the company says it's committed to cleaning any contamination. A report on its website states, "Data from the scientific investigation indicate there are no threats to human health or safety from groundwater contamination migrating from the Laroche site."
Another report also says a broken Clifton sewer may have mixed sanitary waste with ground contamination. It's unclear who will be picking up the $1 million tab to fix and clean up that site.
Sean Ryan lives near the plant and suspects ground contamination could impact water. "We all got letters saying it's contamination from years ago. Laundry detergent chemicals, something like that," he says. "They're saying 'It's 30, 60 feet down. It's not going to decrease property values, not going to contaminate,' but there are wells all over."
Despite the environmental concerns, Schaller defended Hoffman Laroche and its business practices. "They were a company like no other," she says. "They cared about employees, they cared about homes in the vicinity."
Residents met with Laroche officials at the end of May. A public comment session on cleanup has been extended to July 2.
Hoffman Laroche has said it will vacate the site in Nutley by 2015.