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CNB Archives 2009: Dead Pond Fish, $400 Million to Cleanup Radon, Public Question Passed

CNB Archives Monday, November 16, 2009

Dead Pond/Aquarium Fish, $400 Million to Cleanup Radon, Public Question Passed, The More Things Change etc.…

By William E. Cleary Sr

Who is responsible for Dead Pond/Aquarium Fish-This past summerTips and snippets banner a number of Gloucester City residents alleged that the City’s water was responsible for killing their aquarium and pond fish. Some of those same residents filed a claim against the City seeking reimbursement for their loss. A number of the fish that were killed were Japanese Kio fish. A fully matured Kio is priced as high as $3000. 

Judy Baker, who lost her pond fish, filed a $350 claim with the City’s insurance carrier, Scibal Associates. 

This past week Judy received the following letter denying her claim against the City.

As we have advised, Scibal Associates is the claims administrator for the City of Gloucester.  We have investigated your claim for damage to your fish after adding tap water to the pond.  The City has advised that they do not add chlorine or ammonia to the water.  They confirm that the water met required standards for human consumption; unfortunately, it is not warranted for us in fish ponds.  We find that the duty to test the water for fitness for use in a fish pond rests with the owner of the pond and must deny your claim.  I regret that we cannot inform you more favorably. 

The letter was signed by Robin Sulzer.

Following an outcry from the fish loving public and from residents complaining of the ammonia/bleach smell when they shower, the City released a letter on July 9th, 2009. The headline I wrote above that letter read, Gloucester City Water Responsible for Killing Pond and Aquarium Fish. 

The City’s letter reads in part, 

Recently on or about the third week of June to the first week of July, possible water problems have been reported concerning loss of aquarium and pond fish. Resulting from our investigations, we believe that the combination of chlorine and associated by-products had an acute affect on fish. This situation in no way suggests that there is a health concern to the residents of the City.

I believe the City admitted in that letter that the water was responsible for the fish dying but that is my opinion. 

$400 Million for Radon Cleanup in Gloucester City/Camden City…The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are building a temporary football practice field and a temporary Tee-ball field in that area so that the hazardous waste from some of the playing fields at the north end of Johnson Blvd. can be removed. The temporary fields will be used during the 2010/2011 seasons. The approximate cost for the temporary fields is $50,000, according to Brian Duffy, spokes person for Army Corp of Engineers. 

Between the 1890s and 1940s, the defunct Welsbach Co. manufactured gas mantles at its facility located at King and Essex Streets. Presently the area is being used by Holt Cargo Systems. The gas mantles contained the radioactive elements thorium and radium. These elements give off gamma radiation and radon gas as part of the process of radioactive decay. These wastes were used as fill material in some area in Camden and Gloucester City. In 1996 the site was placed on the EPA’s Superfund Site List,  a list of the nations’ most hazardous waste sites. Around 2002 the remediation work began on the homes in the Essex and Brown Streets area including the City Swim Club property. 

Duffy said the cleanup of all the sites is expected to take another 10 years. The projected cost $400 million. Of that amount an estimated $350 million will be spent in Gloucester City. The remaining amount, approximately $50 million is allocated for Camden City sites.

Several people asked if the local question on the November 3 ballot pertaining to the volunteer firemen in Gloucester City passed. The final vote was 1105 yes and 822 no. As a result volunteer firemen who qualify will be eligible to join the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP). The program rewards members of the volunteer firefighter organization for their loyal, diligent and devoted services to the residents of Gloucester City.

The LOSAP will provide for fixed annual contributions to a deferred income account for each volunteer member that meets the criteria. The estimated cost of the program has been calculated at $25,000 per year. Membership start date shall be November 1 and the firefighter must serve one full year to be eligible. 

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…The Camden County Recycler newsletter was released last week. According to an article in the paper recycling has increased in all county municipalities by 32 percent since the year 2006. The increase is attributed to the single stream recycling program. In one article Freeholder Jeff Nash states, “Due to the ease of single stream recycling, (placing newspapers, glass, and cans all in one container) we are seeing an increase in homeowner compliance with recycling requirements.”

If compliance is up throughout all Camden County communities by 32 percent one would ask why then did Gloucester City feel the need to a hire a Sanitation Enforcement Officer in August. The individual hired at the time for the $300 a week part-time job was Jim Rauchet, the president of the local Democrat Club.

Come to find out two weeks after he was appointed Rauchet quit. Then in September the City advertized the position on the NJ Civil Service website. And from what I been told some members of council still feel the position is needed.

I hope that isn’t correct. If people are complying with the law as Freeholder Nash states then this position is not needed in the City of Gloucester City or in any other county community. 

And if our mayor and council say it is then they should prove it to the public by releasing the recycling tonnage figures for the last three years. And before hiring anyone go to the residents and asked them to increase their effort before wasting their tax dollars on a “trumped up” position.

The French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-90) said it best, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” 




Just Saying said...

If the City claims they do NOT add chlorine to the water, then Why does the City pay thousands of dollars a year for chlorine? Check out the City bills for the year. 

What are your thoughts on this Bill? 

Unless the City purchased a couple of swimming pools and more toy boats.

Angel Fish said...

I think he's right, get a copy of the City's Itemized Bills for the Water Department. We have as a paying customer the implied idea that we pay for clean potable drinking water safe for human consumption & to give to our pets; Cats, Dogs & Fish.
I do believe that most people do not test their water before using it for ponds or aquariums, I think that from now on using the test strips to check for PH, Chlorine etc. is warranted. 

I would bet that the City Water Dept. has to keep a log of what chemicals they add and how much they add on any given day, week or month. You have the right to examine these records and have a right to pay for a copy. 

Get the information and send an addendum to your claim to the insurance company, and tell them if they are not willing to settle that you will sue for your loss, attorneys fees and court costs and an amended figure of costs to dispose of dead fish that you may have paid your friend $200.00 to dispose of and loss of pay to take time off of work for court. I think it's cheaper for them to just settle. You just have to let them know that you are willing to cost them more money than you are asking for.

Good Luck, and don't give up the City & Insurance Company will lie to your face and try to not pay you. However, you have the right to those records. Contact John Paff if you need help getting the records.

SNRoche said...

In its 2008 Consumer Confidence Report, the city's Environmental Utilities Department states, in the very first paragraph, "Sodium Hypochlorite IS ADDED to maintain a slight chlorine residual in order to guard against bacteria infection." (Emphasis added.) So the insurance company's letter appears to have erred in stating that the plant does "not add the water." The level is believed safe for - and needed for safety to - humans. Its effect on fish is another matter entirely.

Just Saying said...

why does the City purchase thousands of dollars of chlorine then?

Blameless Society said...

The city is obligated to provide clean water to it's citizens. Get over your fish already. 

Glowing in the Dark said...

So now that they've cleaned the radioactive waste from the place we went swimming growing up, now they've found it under the place where we played baseball and football?!? It's no wonder there are so many cases of cancer (especially Hodgkins) in Gloucester. What is this going to do to our property valudes?

Sport Fisherman said...

Ask Patrick Kain, the water works supervisor, if he notified anyone not to add tap water to ponds or aquariums after the first report.

Statements on the street say he did tell a select few but the rest of the town was left to fend for itself.

The governing body appears to view Cleary's Note Book as a hostile entity. The fact remains that it is the most widely used means of communication in Gloucester City. When will they learn to represent and communicate with the entire community not just friends, relatives and club members.

Thank you Mr. Cleary, for the valuable service/forum you provide.


I forgot to add this to my article but they also found several hot spots where they are building the new fields. Mr. Duffy said the problem areas were removed before construction began.

I also asked was it ever considered to level the City and give the $400 million to the residents to move elsewhere.

His answer was no. (I am para phasing)...although there were a 1000 spots identified there were many properties that are clear. And Gloucester/south Jersey residents live in a highly industrial area which can attribute to the high rate of cancer in this community and the surrounding communities. 

????????? said in reply to Glowing in the Dark...

The purchase of the boat was supposed to energize our business community and raise property values wasn/t it?

The boat is gone. Did it sink?

Thirsty, Can't afford to buy bottled water said...

The water is suitable for people not fish, sounds a little fishy to me. Let water that you get from your faucet sit in a glass for a few hours, what is that black crap on the bottom of the glass?


Re: the city's boat...I have been told it was placed in winter storage.

Tom said...

So we have a boat that makes us money (oh wait, it really doesn't) in service for a few months a year. Maybe we should have spent the money on something that makes the city money ALL YEAR. Instead of put the boat in storage (that tax payers are paying for) and it makes us zero dollars. 

We voted for these idiots. =)


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