Read the full article by E.A. Crunden (Waste Dive)

“The New Jersey DEP expressed disappointment, while the U.S. EPA said it will continue partnering with states and local governments as it seeks ways to destroy the toxic chemicals.

A planned New Jersey study on how certain chemicals behave when incinerated has been scrapped following outcry from local community members. The study, focused on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), was set to take place this month in Rahway at the Union County Resource Recovery Facility operated by Covanta and would not have involved the actual incineration of PFAS. 

The company had agreed to the test in collaboration with the U.S. EPA and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as part of an effort to learn more about PFAS in the waste stream. But local groups were alerted about the test by Judith Enck, a former administrator for EPA’s Region 2 under the Obama administration. Enck said she had concerns about the plan, which would have seen the test take place near low-income, largely Black residents. 

‘Burning PFAS chemicals at municipal incinerators does not make sense,’ she said. ‘[EPA] should be rapidly investigating non-incineration disposal technologies that will not put the public health or the environment at risk.’  

Nicolle Robles, a spokesperson for Covanta, said the company was approached by EPA to partner on the study but the facility owner, Union County Utilities Authority, had not authorized it to go forward.

‘We will look closely at any future opportunity to help study this important topic,’ Robles said, emphasizing the need for more research around PFAS disposal.

Local reactions seemingly compounded the issues facing the study. Quanae Palmer-Chambliss, head of the local NAACP chapter, said she had recently learned about PFAS and was concerned about potential impacts to her community.

‘These plants are set up in marginalized communities. They have been fined before for releasing toxins in the community that are above EPA standards,’ she said…”