Suspicious barrels in vacant Northvale building bring HAZMAT response

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Dozens of barrels at a vacant Northvale industrial building that once was the site of a hazardous waste dump brought a large emergency response this morning, but no dangers were found, officials said.

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The incident began just before 10:45 this morning at the TECT/Danzig property at 254 Livingston Avenue, a site where 750 barrels of toxic chemicals had once been unearthed in a single dig.

Northvale emergency crews found several drums in the more than 50-year-old, two-story, cement-block building — which was due to be torn down this month — raising concerns over what may be inside them.

Among those at the scene were the Bergen County Hazardous Materials Response Team, New Milford’s HAZMAT unit, and fire departments from Northvale, Norwood, Closter and Demarest. Ambulances were sent, as a precaution.

Records show the site was first deemed hazardous 30 years ago.

New Jersey environmental officials “first became aware of TECT’s operations at the [s]ite sometime in May or June 1982, when [they] received information that a former TECT employee alleged having witnessed the burial of 100 drums of chemicals at the [s]ite,” state records show.

A new company had bought the property and was making floor finishing products there.

Three years later, Northvale officials reported that drums containing trichloroethylene had been buried behind the building.

The borough seized the property in 1998 for non-payment of taxes, and a true cleanup began in earnest.

Tests showed high levels of contamination of PCBs and other toxic chemicals, according to state records. There were also underground storage danks, dumpsters filled with waste and drums up to 55 gallons large.

Apparently, TECT — a California-based manufacturer of chlorinated solvents and other byproducts — also collected waste from other companies and its disposal system “consisted of burying the chemical soup in drums,” the DEP wrote.

Within months, 750 of the drums were pulled from the ground.

Two more tanks were found in January 2002 — and these were leaking, state officials said.

The borough and the New Jersey DEP incurred more than $2 million in costs for cleaning up the site, money that state officials have sought to retrieve from TECT Inc.

Danzig Holdings bought the 2.25-acre site after TECT Inc. went bankrupt in the early 1970s, state records show.

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