By RYAN HUGHES, KERRI CORRADO
EAST GREENWICH TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (KYW) — A town hall meeting was held in East Greenwich Township Tuesday evening to address a chemical reaction that sent a foul odor into the air in South Jersey. Nearly a week later, many residents say their homes still smell, and they’ve been forced to throw out food and furniture.
Officials say there is no health risk to humans or pets. They say the goal of this town hall was to address any questions and concerns from residents.
The smell is nowhere near as strong, but it’s still lingering around and hanging in people’s homes.
“We threw away all our food, chips, cereal, ice cream in the freezer,” Chris DiVetro said.
As soon as you step inside Chris and Jennifer DiVietro’s home in Clarksboro you can smell the foul odor still lingering in the air, in the kitchen, and in the cabinets.
Chris and Jennifer live directly across the street from the TA Travel Center Truck Stop on Berkley Road where the reaction started last week.
The couple says their eyes and throats have been irritated but their main concern is their daughter, Aubree, who’s about to turn 2 next month.
“It’s been hell. We’ve been staying here on and off. We’ve been staying with family members because of the smell,” Chris said.
That smell has been traced back to a tanker truck with TransChem USA. It was parked at the truck stop.
People complained of the foul-smelling odor in Gloucester and Camden Counties and even into parts of Philadelphia.
The mayor of East Greenwich Township says the reaction is contained. No vapor has been released since Friday, and the town hall is to help answer questions and update everyone on the situation.
“The goal has been transparency, to be able to make sure we explain to each and every resident what has occurred, what has happened, what we are currently doing, and what the end result is going to be,” Mayor Dale Archer said.
“Us on scene as first responders are quickly assessing and evaluating those same questions and we are here tonight to come out here and continue that conversation,” said Matthew Brenner with East Greenwich Police.
While some say they were not satisfied, others felt confident after hearing from a panel of experts.
“So the response has been pretty good so I’m pretty satisfied overall,” a resident said.
“I thought it was great that they actually had everybody here and we could ask whatever questions we wanted,” a resident said.
A lawsuit has been filed against the trucking company, and insurance claims have also been filed by impacted residents and businesses forced to close last week.
“We fully understand the magnitude that we have affected the community and that is why we are here,” said Dave Edmondson with TransChem USA.
Right now, the air is being monitored 24/7 and officials say the emissions stemmed from a decomposition of a fuel additive that produced hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans into the air.
They say just because you can smell it does not mean the exposure is harmful.
“Certain compounds are different. There’s compounds that are harmful and you can’t smell them. Thankfully, mercaptans and H2S, you can smell them way before they are harmful to you,” CTEH Project toxicologist Michael Reilly said.
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