CAMDEN, NJ — Camden’s Cooper’s Ferry Partnership plans to develop new community education programs and create more public green spaces with a $120,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) award.

One of 18 organizations funded through the $2.1 million EJCPS Cooperative Agreements program, EPA says the funds will help to decrease lead exposure, asthma and mold dangers. 

“Through this grant, Cooper’s Ferry will provide hands-on assistance for many Camden residents who may need advice on how to reduce lead, mold and asthma risks in their homes. EPA has a long history of partnering with the government and nonprofit groups in Camden, New Jersey to mitigate the environmental health risks that disproportionately affect urban and disadvantaged communities within the area,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in a statement. “These environmental justice grants are just one of the tools we use to help address the enormous challenges that many underserved communities face, and they, along with other assistance that we have and continue to provide, reflect EPA’s unwavering commitment to the city of Camden.”  

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Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called the funds a good start but ultimately a “drop in the bucket” in a community that has been long fraught with environmental issues. 

“This problem has been going on for decades,” Tittle said. “We need New Jersey to kick in and help these communities. They need to remove the lead pipes and get rid of the lead in homes, schools, and in the air and soil. Children were still drinking bottled water in schools until the public closed them. The Britta and Poland Spring solution does not work. Camden also has a serious issue with contaminated drinking well water that contains PFAS. EPA Funding towards lead awareness and abatement in Camden is not enough. New Jersey needs to do a better job of finding more funding for lead abatement in areas of Camden that already have lead issues.”

The American Lung Association’s recent State of the Air Report rated Camden County with ‘F’ for ground-level ozone. Tittle also cited that Camden’s Covanta incinerator, which emits particulate matter, toxic ash, and cyanide, accounts for 81% of the industrial emissions of nitrogen oxides, 90% of the industrial sulfur dioxide pollution, 99% of cadmium emissions and 59% of Camden County’s fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) emissions. 

“We are in unprecedented financial times, and we have to take a view that resources as long as their timely will make an impact but also understand that the priory doesn’t go away and the need doesn’t go away,” Kris Kolluri, president and CEO of Cooper's Ferry Partnership, said over the phone.

This past August, the City Council voted to adopt the proposed Microgrid Rehabilitation Plan in the waterfront south, which was met with resistance from community members wary of it’s attachment to the incinerator.

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