Howell OEM director: Chemical barrels present extremely low risk to community

Howell Township OEM director Victor Cook says there is no immediate danger to residents to get out of their homes in a moment's notice.

Jim Murdoch and Lanette Espy

Apr 24, 2023, 5:40 PM

Updated 452 days ago

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It’s still not known what is in hundreds of barrels on a Howell Township property, but the risk to the community is extremely low, according to Howell Township OEM Director Victor Cook.
"For the residents, there is no immediate danger to get out of their homes in a moment's notice," he said.
News 12 New Jersey reported last month that the entire area surrounding 15 Marl Road continues to be fenced in and under 24-hour security since a fire in February led to the discovery of 200-300 barrels containing chemicals.
Howell Township fire departments were dispatched on Feb. 9 to the former Compounders Inc. site, where they discovered materials burning inside an old metal structure on site. Compounders Inc. manufactured several chemical compounds, including glues, adhesives, and asphalt materials.
Last week, the barrels were sorted, air quality monitors put in place, and testing had begun on the chemicals. An evacuation plan in place since March was shared with people who work, live, and go to school within a one-mile radius in case of another fire.
"This has been secured since Feb. 9. Where the risk of somebody going on site and doing nefarious things, it's been reduced. The fence has been put up, security has been here 24/7 and now the EPA is working on the site to get this mitigated as fast as possible,” Cook said.
Long-term effects on groundwater and soil won't be determined until all the barrels are removed. Cook says it's still too early to see what the cost is for this cleanup, who may be fined or charged, and how long it will be until it’s known what exactly is inside those barrels.



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