(NEWARK) – Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chair L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex) today joined community and environmental advocates at Weequahic Park to raise awareness about air pollution and health issues facing residents in Newark’s South Ward neighborhoods.
Spencer participated in the Truck Count and Walking Tour held in Weequahic Park and on Dayton Street to bring attention to air pollution from port trucks and the harmful effects on the residents of the South Ward. The event was hosted by Moving Forward Network and Coalition for Healthy Ports member groups, Clean Water Action and NJ Environmental Justice Alliance.
According to organizers, the South Ward section of Newark is negatively impacted by its proximity to the Port Authority of NY&NJ (PANYNJ), which is the second-largest port in the nation.
“The long-term effects of air pollution are dangerous and even deadly. Unfortunately for South Ward residents, they are exposed to these pollutants through no fault of their own, but because of where they live,” said Spencer. “The port and trucking companies have a responsibility to protect these families from the health risks associated with diesel fumes. Today, we call on them to be better neighbors and take the necessary steps to prevent putting the health of our residents further at risk.”
According to organizers, thousands of diesel trucks roll through neighborhoods in the South Ward, spewing diesel exhaust which is linked to high rates of asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders. Despite a policy by the PANYNJ to ban the use of older trucks, thousands of trucks with pre-2007 diesel engines are still being used to carry containers to and from the port.
“Newark has one of the highest rates of children suffering from asthma in the state,” said Spencer. “Exposure to air pollution can trigger new cases of asthma and worsen previously-existing respiratory illnesses. It is crucial that the entities contributing to the air pollution in our neighborhoods take action to keep our residents healthy.”