August 11, 2007. On Thursday, Governor Jon Corzine held a press conference in South Kearny using the Pulaski Skyway as a backdrop. Corzine stated that it might make sense to spend $1 billion to replace the bridge than to spend $100 million to maintain it over the next 10 years. U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez vowed to lobby Congress and the Bush administration for increased transportation funding.
Earlier in the week there was a story which received very little press coverage. There was a chlorine leak on a railroad container which injured a CSX employee in South Kearny. The leak was contained to the area immediately surrounding the container. The Kearny Fire Department and a HazMat team crew responded and found that a valve on the container had leaked allowing chlorine gas to escape.
Governor Corzine missed a great opportunity to hold a press conference to cover both the safety of New Jersey's bridges and its chemical plants. When Corzine was a United States Senator, he lobbied for increased chemical plant security and specifically for the Kuehne Chemical plant in South Kearny. If the State of New Jersey is thinking of spending $1 billion dollars to secure the Pulaski Skyway it should divert that money to help Kuehne Chemical retrofit its South Kearny plant to make it as safe as its Delaware plant. (See our Environment Page for various articles on the topic). A major chlorine leak at the Kuehne Chemical plant will, reportedly, cause more deaths than if you lined the Pulaski Skyway with cars bumper to bumper from beginning to end and it collapsed completely. The Pulaski Skyway may be in need of maintenance but it is not on the verge of collapse. It is our opinion that it is far more important to secure the Kuehne Chemical plant than it is to rebuild the Pulaski Skyway. The State should be spending $1 billion to retrofit the Kuehne Chemical plant. There is very little that the Kearny Fire Department and/or the Hazmat team will be able to do if there is a major leak at the Kuehne Chemical plant. If the Pulaski Skyway was on the verge of collapse, we would close it down. The Kuehne Chemical plant is always on the verge of collapse but the State continues to allow it to remain open despite technology that would make its operation safer. The $1 billion dollars would be better spent on the Kuehne Chemical plant than on the Pulaski Skyway.