NJ Voices: Pulling plug on a city’s past
Mark DiIonno provides an obituary for one of Newark’s oldest — and most infamous — downtown buildings, the Westinghouse factory.
“This area of Essex County was a triangle of American electrical component factories,” said John T. Cunningham, whose book “Made in New Jersey” documents the state’s industrial growth. “Westinghouse had a number of New Jersey factories, making lamps, curling irons, and other household appliances, and sophisticated instrumentation.”
For much of six decades of the last century, back when America actually made stuff, the Westinghouse plant employed 3,000 people and pumped out 116,000 units a month, all stamped with “Made in Newark, N.J.”
Mayor Booker gleefully announced this eyesore would finally come down in 2008 after decades of disuse, and many are only too happy to see it go. Meanwhile, nearby residents are concerned that the site demolition might be leaking harmful contaminants: Star Ledger: Neighbors fear demolition is a health hazard.
The land is contaminated with chlorinated solvents known as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, as well as petroleum products, said Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection. Workers are cleaning up those chemicals by pumping into the ground a substance called sodium persulfate, which speeds the breakdown of pollutants into harmless components, he said.
“In terms of the contaminants, the chemical contaminants inside the building, we don’t feel there’s anything to be overly concerned about during the demolition,” Hajna said.