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Chemical Spill in Lightning Brook

An unidentified substance is discharged into a brook leading to the Rahway River.


Correction: Lightning Brook is not part of the Rahway system. It flows into the Elizabeth River and then into Arthur Kill and Newark Bay, according to Bob McCoy, Chair, Maplewood Environmental Advisory Committee.

The Maplewood Fire Department discovered a type of petroleum distillate in a section of Lightning Brook off Chancellor Avenue, prompting an environmental clean up by a hazmat crew, according to Deputy Chief Joseph Callaghan.

A Chancellor Avenue resident called the fire department on Friday to report a strong odor emanating from the Lightning Brook, which passes through the eastern border of Maplewood, said Callaghan. Engine 32 responded and reported a strong petroleum type odor coming from the brook with a sheen on top of the water, he said.

The fire department notified the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, which prompted the response of Nutley Hazmat, said Callaghan.

"The area across the brook was 'boomed'" or wrapped with absorbent material, said Callaghan. "(Then) the hydrants were allowed to flow to wash the product from the storm drain into the brook, then into the boom where it was collected."

Callaghan said the brook is part of the Elizabeth River system which partially supports the Rahway River, which is governed by the Rahway River Authority. It eventually provides drinking water for the City of Rahway.

"The Maplewood Fire Department takes these spills seriously," said Callaghan. "It) happens more than people think," he said. "Contractors sometimes dispose of things in the storm drain."

It was not determined who was responsible for the spill or exactly what the substance was, he said.

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