Millburn Swamped with More Questions on Radioactive Facility

The Township Committee gathers for Tuesday's meeting Credits: Liz Keill
Committeewoman Sandra Haimoff present a proclamation making October Domestic Violence Awareness Month Credits: Liz Keill
Gen II Contractor challenges committee on firehouse issues Credits: Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – A number of issues came before the Millburn Township Committee at its Tuesday, Oct. 6, meeting. Nonetheless, the potential for a Triple A facility that would manufacture a medical radioactive drug overshadowed everything else.

Attorney Christopher Falcon said he had contacted three experts to review the matter and offer insights. A South Carolina firm dropped out, he said, but the other two are still being considered. One is a health specialist who is familiar with nuclear material, laboratories and management of safety procedures. The other is a university consultant, who he said has the ability to explain the concept and answer public questions.  “I intend to meet with each personally and learn how they deal with public officials and the residents,” he said. Falcon said he would have a recommendation for the committee within the next couple of days.

Residents’ concerns mostly involved safety issues, such as what happens if there is leakage and how does that affect children? Some were concerned with the possibility of fire and being evacuated. One person asked about liability. Is Millburn responsible if another town is affected?

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Members of the committee tried to inform those at the meeting that there was little they could do at this point, other than garner information and share it with the public. “It’s not our decision,” Mayor Robert Tillotson said. “The EPA did not originate from this board.” The matter had gone before the Planning Board last spring, when the light manufacturing site became available. He said of Triple A, “They made it clear they wanted to be here and that they had every right to be here.”

Committeeman W. Theodore Bourke said the application required a slight variance “and that is not in our jurisdiction legally.” Committeewoman Cheryl Burnstein noted, “The expert will help us navigate how to deal with this. What is our realistic goal and how do we get there?”

One resident said, “We are the residents. They are the newcomers.” Several people pointed out that Millburn/Short Hills is a highly educated population with Wall Street brokers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals.   

A number of people pleaded for stronger leadership from the committee. One resident asked about passing ordinances that would reject certain types of business. A strategy used by some cities, he said, to prevent pipelines has been to refuse to allow surveys, which prevents the matter from going further. “Look at what can be controlled,” he said.  Many people asked for more communication on the website and a public meeting when the expert will be here to speak.

A question came up about the number of licenses issued in the state for similar products. Committeewoman Sandra Haimoff said she thought it was about 600, which would include hospitals such as St. Barnabas and Overlook, which have their own pharmacies. But they may deal with other radioactive materials, not necessarily isotopes.

In a separate issue, David Harrison, a former member of the Environmental Commission, said he sees police vehicles idling during school drop-off and pick-up. He said he had recommended a device that could be installed in place of that practice. “Police don’t have to abide by anti-idling laws,” he said one policeman told him. According to Harrison, after a vehicle idles for three minutes, it is considered in violation.  Township Administrator Timothy Gordon said he had looked into the matter and “the device has been ordered.”  Haimoff said this is also a warning for parents who are dropping off or picking up their children, that idling increases pollution and is against the law.

In a final matter – a contractor from Gen II Contracting Company said he would vigorously oppose the committee’s refusal to pay his firm for work done on the firehouse. The resolution noted the bid was $178,900. But because of poor construction and delays, defective work has cost $129, 525.

Bourke told the contractor, “You’re too late in the process. This is ridiculous.”  The work was supposed to be completed in 60 days, beginning Sept. 17, 2014.  Burnstein said the contractor had agreed to the 60 day contract. “You know the work has to be done and you’re not getting it done,” she said.

The board approved Resolution 15-217 stating Gen II Contracting is in default. 

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