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Hazard NJ

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Hazard NJ is an investigative series that will highlight the different ways climate change and extreme weather will impact hazardous Superfund sites across New Jersey.


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Hazard NJ is an investigative series that will highlight the different ways climate change and extreme weather will impact hazardous Superfund sites across New Jersey.




REWIND: Happy Earth Day from Hazard NJ

Happy Earth Day from Hazard NJ and NJ Spotlight News! Thank you all for taking the time to listen to our podcast, and learn about the ways in which climate change is impacting some of New Jersey’s most toxic places. We’re happy to say that we are already working on our next season, which will take a hard look at a new pollution threat in the Garden State and beyond: PFAS, also called “forever chemicals.” We’ll have more on that soon, but for now, here’s a look back at the second half of Season 1.


BONUS EPISODE: Small Steps, Big Money for the Passaic

Small steps forward this week on the clean-up of the lower Passaic River, where past dumping of Agent Orange and other chemicals created a toxic mess that is now one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites. But that progress comes as one of the main companies on the hook for the work is pushing hard against a deal the EPA has made with other polluters.


Episode 8: The Resurrection of Price’s Pit

The decades-long drip, drip, drip of toxic chemicals from the Price Landfill in South Jersey reached crisis levels in the early '80s when the hazardous plume threatened to taint the water supply for the Atlantic City area. The site earned an emergency response and the reputation as the most polluted Superfund site in America. Now, more than 40 years later, Price Landfill has entered a new chapter… And this time, it's helping not harming.


BONUS Episode: Polluters Pay Up on the Passaic

Efforts to clean up the lower stretch of the Passaic River are getting a $150 million boost, thanks to a new settlement between the federal government and 85 likely polluters. This stretch of the river, running through Newark and nearby towns, is coated with a lining of toxic mud, tainted by decades and decades of chemical dumping. Getting it cleaned up will be difficult – and expensive. At roughly $1.8 billion, the Passaic River is estimated to be the costliest project currently facing the EPA’s Superfund program. That makes the settlement a small, but welcome, step forward.


Damages: Wild Rice Goes to Court

We’re bringing you a special episode from the podcast “Damages”, which examines court cases that matter in the fight against climate change. In this episode, “Damages” host Amy Westervelt takes listeners to Minnesota, where the rights of threatened wild rice (or manoomin in the Ojibwe language) are considered in the face of efforts to build the Line 3 pipeline across the state. Check it out, and be sure to follow “Damages” wherever you get your podcasts.


Episode 7: A Headache on the Hudson

In Edgewater, a bustling urban town across the Hudson River from Manhattan, a polluted lot of a former factory sits right on the water. Today it's a Superfund site being cleaned up, set to one day become a piece of prime real estate for redevelopment. But that cleanup has created problems of its own, and as the process drags on, the threat of flooding from the river grows.


Drilled: Industry Fights Back

We’re bringing you a special episode from the podcast “Drilled”, which scrutinizes the powers that have long profited from unfettered fossil fuel use. In this episode, “Drilled” host Amy Westervelt takes a look at how the oil and gas industry has pushed to portray environmentalists as idealists detached from reality, in an effort to undercut campaigns against fossil fuels. Check it out, and be sure to follow “Drilled” wherever you get your podcasts.


Episode 6: Toxic Sites in a Tinderbox

The Pinelands, a million-acre swath of pine forest dominating South Jersey, is one of America’s most unique environments. The Pinelands have always been a place prone to catch fire and today, climate change is making the area’s wildfire season more unpredictable. The fear is not only fire, but it’s impact on the area’s legacy of toxic illegal dumping.


The Sweaty Penguin: Breaking down the Inflation Reduction Act

We’re bringing you a special episode from our friends at “The Sweaty Penguin” podcast, which dives deep (with a bit of humor!) on all things climate change. In this episode, “The Sweaty Penguin” crew takes a look at the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, and what it does and does not do for the climate. Check it out, and be sure to follow “The Sweaty Penguin”, another show made possible by the Peril & Promise initiative, wherever you get your podcasts.


Episode 5: Orange Fog and Creeping Saltwater

The National Lead company spent years in the 1970s recycling car batteries at a factory in rural South Jersey, haphazardly draining battery acid onto the ground. The pollution left dangerous heavy metals in the site's soil and groundwater --- a mess that is now on the verge of being cleaned up. But in an area along Delaware Bay, sea level rise is slowly pushing a new potential problem into the ground.


BONUS Episode: Remembering Jim Florio

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio, who wrote the Superfund law back in 1980, died this week at age 85. In this bonus episode, we reflect on Florio’s efforts to clean up New Jersey and America’s toxic messes, and we revisit our interview with him earlier this year.


REWIND: Highlighting the Best of Hazard NJ (So Far)

Hazard NJ is returning with four new episodes this fall, to take fresh new looks about the relationship between the Garden State's most toxic Superfund sites and climate change. Get ready for the new shows with a look back at some highlights from our first four episodes, and keep an eye on your podcast feeds: Episode 5 drops on September 28.


BONUS Episode: The Hackensack’s Comeback Moves Ahead

It’s official: The Hackensack River is New Jersey’s 115th Superfund site. EPA officials gathered with state and local leaders this week to announce the big news, which puts the polluted lower reaches of the river in line for a major cleanup that is expected to cost billions of dollars.


BONUS Episode: Funding Returns for the Superfund

The Superfund program was designed to be paid for by a tax on chemical and oil companies, but that tax expired years ago, and the program has been strapped for cash since. But that has changed in recent months. Last fall, the chemical tax was brought back as part of the massive federal infrastructure bill. And oil tax has returned as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed today by President Joe Biden. NJ Spotlight News anchor Briana Vannozzi spoke with Rep. Frank Pallone about the tax's return, and why it matters.


Episode 4: A Comeback on the Hackensack

The mud lining the Hackensack River is a mysterious mixture known to contain mercury, cadmium, lead, PCBs and plenty more nasty substances. Now the river is on its way to becoming New Jersey’s 115th Superfund site — and that’s not a bad thing. Superstorm Sandy slammed up the Hackensack and surrounding Meadowlands, flooding towns and wrecking widespread damage. But the area’s wetlands likely blunted the blow, and with climate change intensifying storms, cleanup efforts and restoration work in the area are becoming more critical.


Episode 3: Heart of Ringwood

In July 2005, Roger De Groat stepped outside his home in the secluded, forested community of Upper Ringwood to find a hole the size of a swimming pool where his backyard used to be. Roger’s home, like the rest in the neighborhood, sits atop an extensive system of abandoned iron mines, and sinkholes like these have opened every so often for decades. But what's in the mines is a different kind of lingering threat. Ford Motor Company turned the mines into a toxic waste dump in the '60s and '70s, with little regard for the people, overwhelmingly Ramapough Lenape Nation tribal members, that were dumped on. Today the community is gripped by cancer and other diseases that residents believe is tied to the chemicals Ford left behind. When the EPA put the Ringwood Mines on the Superfund list, a shoddy cleanup left so much pollution behind that the site had to be relisted. A second try at cleaning up the mess is now underway. As climate change brings increasingly heavy rains to the area, toxic chemicals known to be in the groundwater are threatening to migrate towards a critical water supply reservoir nearby.


Episode 2: America’s Biggest Crime Scene

The chemical company Diamond Alkali, one of the nation's main producers of Agent Orange, spent years dumping chemical waste into the Passaic River and polluting Newark's Ironbound neighborhood. In the early 80's, state and federal authorities pledged to clean the mess up but today, nearly 40 years later, toxic mud still lies beneath the water. Now the cleanup is facing a $1.8 billion price tag, an uncertain timeline, and the growing threat that intense storms fueled by climate change could stir the pollution up.


Episode 1: On Thin Ice

Growing up in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Peggy Fussell has fond memories of ice skating on a local pond—that is, until she discovered that the pond was a toxic waste site. Decades after chemical producer American Cyanamid ceased its Bridgewater operations, and was declared a Superfund Site, its toxic legacy is precariously contained in local waste ponds. As climate change fuels more intense storms in the region, these ponds risk flooding and spilling over into the nearby community. With a cleanup that has dragged on for decades and has no clear end in sight, what will it take to avoid catastrophe?



New Jersey is home to the largest number of Superfund sites in the country – and while federal cleanup is underway – the bigger threat to them now is climate change. Flooding, fires, and rising sea levels could make life even harder for those who live nearby. Hazard NJ digs through the muck of each contaminated site to give a clearer picture of what the threat is and what it will take to clean it up before it’s too late. Hosted by journalist Jordan Gass-Poore’, produced by NJ Spotlight News.