HILLSBOROUGH: Rep. Lance should get credit for having mercury removed

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To the editor: 
In response to the irresponsible, fear-mongering and attention-seeking letter by New Jersey Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittel, published in the Feb. 19 issue of the Beacon, I am writing to provide some facts about the recent fire at the Veterans Administration Depot, and the mercury that formerly was stored at the adjacent but separate Defense National Stockpile Center (DNSC).
(1) The fact is that the former location of the mercury storage was not in any way involved in the fire, which involved only the VA Depot. The DNSC warehouses in which the mercury was once stored are more than one-half-mile from the fire site, were upwind of the fire and were not affected by the fire at all.
(2) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided rigorous oversight of the preparation and shipment of the mercury out of the DNSC in 2010. After the recent fire, Hillsborough Director of Health Dr. Glen Belnay spoke to the EPA agent who was onsite throughout the mercury shipment process in 2010, and who conducted post-shipment wipe sampling in the DNSC warehouses. This EPA agent told Dr. Belnay that he found no residuals of mercury in the storage buildings.
(3) EPA and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection officials continuously monitored the emissions from the fire, and found no traces of mercury in them.
(4) The removal of the mercury from the DNSC in 2010 was accomplished mainly by the efforts of our U.S. Congressman, Leonard Lance, who is a tireless worker and advocate for the people and municipalities of his district. It is no coincidence that Congressman Lance took office in 2009, and ALL (not just “most,” as falsely alleged by Mr. Tittel) of the stored mercury was finally removed from Hillsborough in 2010, after being warehoused at the DSNC for more than 65 years.
Township, county and state officials did as much as they could to keep the mercury issue alive over the years, and help move along the federal bureaucratic process that had to be gone through for its removal, but Congressman Lance was the finisher.
The NJ Sierra Club may have written some letters and issued some press releases along the way, but it had no role in the ultimate success of the mercury removal effort. The chief credit goes to Congressman Lance, and it is mainly to him that Hillsborough residents should be thankful that mercury is no longer stored in our township. 
Greg Burchette 
Township Committeeman 
Hillsborough 