Millions of Garden State residents are at risk from toxic chemical disaster five years after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under former Gov. Jon Corzine adopted rules to implement the New Jersey Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act that were supposed to drastically reduce that risk. That’s the claim in a new report by the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC). The DEP vehemently disagrees.

New Jersey Work Enviornment Council Press Conference (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

“The reality is a chemical disaster can happen,” insisted Debra McFadden who authored the report. “Impacts could range from minor injury to a fatality depending on the chemical involved, the extent of the exposure, wind direction, etc.”

According to the report, 90 NJ facilities still use large quantities of highly hazardous chemicals that can pose a potential catastrophic safety and health risk to millions of workers and the public if there were a worst-case toxic release caused by an incident or deliberate attack. These facilities are located in 19 of the state’s 21 counties. The WEC claims the Christie Administration isn’t doing enough to enforce rules to reduce risk.

“It’s really wrong,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for DEP, referring to the report. “It’s misleading. It’s misguided. It’s really sheer nonsense.”