Friday, May 11, 2012

Fragrance Company and Town at Odds over Odors


 MIDDLESEX, N.J. – A big environmental issue in this Middlesex County community is a lawsuit that was filed against Spray Tek Inc. by the borough Public Board of Health over odors that the company produces. 

The lawsuit has been ongoing for the past several years, board of health members say.

Spray Tek is located on Cedar Avenue in Middlesex, just on the border near Piscataway. The company is known for producing powder-form products for different distributors.Nancy Myers-Holmes, a Middlesex Board of Health member, says she and the board are trying to open communications with Spray Tek to understand their production mode.

“We’re not here to challenge Spray Tek,” Myers-Holmes explained. “We’re here to find out what it is the company does, and open up the lines of communication about what our residents are telling us about the odors that they produce.”

Spray Tek, Inc. takes liquid consumable products and converts them into powder-form products. They handle the conversions of pharmaceuticals, vitamins, flavors, fragrances, cosmetics and food additives. An example of how Spray Tek works is they may convert a liquid into a powder form for Kool-Aid.

Their headquarters’ plant has been privately owned since 1981 and is located in a residential area of Middlesex, with a second facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Though this issue was not brought to the Board of Health’s attention in more than 20 years, Middlesex was previously more of an industrial area until it became populated and more residential.

The odors have become more noticeable to Middlesex residents for the past three years. Some residents describe the odors as unpleasant, and some say the odors are not that bad. The overall issue that the Board of Health is concerned about is if these odors are safe.

There has been no confirmation that the odors produced are dangerous to the residents, officials said. In fact, all of the products that Spray Tek converts are consumable products by manufacturers that are highly regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

Concerns About Seniors with Asthma

Middlesex has a high population of senior citizens, and some worry that Spray Tek’s odors are not good for individuals who suffer from respiratory conditions such as chronic lung disease and asthma.

The Board of Health has no intention to try and shut down Spray Tek.“We (The Board of Health) want the public to become educated on this issue,” Myers-Holmes said.“We wish to take this information and share it to the schools and recreation offices and inform them before they recognize the issue.”

While the legal issue continues to linger in the courts, Spray Tek has agreed to monitor the odors with numerous filters on their gas emission machines. Since the Middlesex location is in such a residential area, Spray Tek says it goes beyond their needs to what is mandated by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). They also have carbon filters that are used to regulate the odors from the building.

Residents of Middlesex have been taking their part by providing feedback to the Board Health. The complaint action has been a positive outcome since the Middlesex Board came up with a solution so the residents can take action. The process begins with the residents calling up Middlesex County, which directs them to the Middlesex police department. The police will then direct residents to the DEP,  who are in charge of this issue.

The town has mailed out to the residents complaint instructions with a direct phone number to create a  simple process. By utilizing this process, the county is able to keep track of complaints along with specific data on what parts of Middlesex Borough are most of the complaints from.

Middlesex County came down to the solution that if Spray Tek controls their production mode, the odors should be less noticeable. Until then, what’s important is the well-being of Middlesex residents, said Myers-Holmes. “People are complaining," she said, "and it’s their quality of life that needs to be recognized in the outcome.”

Molly Rothberg is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She is graduating in May with her Bachelors in Communication Arts with a concentration in Journalism. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in the Public Relations field for a major PR firm.

No comments:

Post a Comment