Another chlorine plant fire prompts calls for state investigation

Posted: Updated:
KEARNY -

A New Jersey environmental group is calling for the state to investigate a Kearny chlorine plant after several fires in recent months.

A fire at the Alden Leeds plant on Jacobus Avenue late Wednesday night was the third fire at the facility since May. Fire officials say that the fire was accidental and started while crews were working to clean up chlorine product left over from a fire on May 17.

Officials say that five pallets of product, which were being sorted for trash, caught fire because the chemicals got too hot. That fire was quickly extinguished but the industrial area where the plant is located was evacuated for a few hours.

Officials say that the fire was small compared to the May 17 fire, which prompted officials to tell nearby residents to protect themselves from toxic smoke. It also shut down the Pulaski Skyway for 24 hours.

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The potential for dangerous fumes is what worries the New Jersey Sierra Club – a group calling for an investigation into the plant.

"We need to hold the Alden Leeds plant accountable and make sure these fires don't keep happening. It is too important for the safety and health of the community,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement.

There are homes about 3 miles from the plant in Jersey City. Smoke from the May 17 fire reached all the way into Manhattan.

Sierra Club members say that Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration needs to take action.

"Under Gov. [Chris] Christie, DEP inspections dropped by 60%. The Murphy administration needs to make sure there is enough personnel so that these chemical facilities are properly inspected,” the Sierra Club spokesperson said.

Kearny fire officials say that air monitors were used to check the air quality after Wednesday’s fire and that all readings came back clear.

Officials with Alden Leeds have not responded to requests for comment.

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