‘Stop Shitting on Newark’ demands local organization fighting to stop an out-of-state sludge facility

Shit gets real. Ironbound residents continue to challenge environmental racism as another corporation wants to dump hundreds of tons of wet waste daily in a section of Newark.

On Thursday, residents are preparing to voice opposition at a City of Newark zoning and planning meeting against the proposal of a sewage treatment plant. 

Aries Clean Energy, a Tennessee-based new-energy company that converts wastewater to biofluids, is presenting its plan to build in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. A district already teeming with manufacturing and waste plants, Newarkers, along with social justice organization, Ironbound Community Corporation, say “No more crap.”

“This whole procedure will add to the pollution, bad odors, and exposure to toxic air quality— meaning it will add to the deteriorating health effects experienced by people in Newark,” said ICC.  “This should not be even considered within this already overburdened community.”

“ICC’s position on Aries is, ‘Absolutely not,’” posted the organization on their Instagram page. “We need to band together to stop a shit factory from coming to Newark.”

While investigating Aries Clean Energy, ICC discovered that the plans put forth have a dubious agenda. The company says they will convert 430 tons of sludge, including human waste, into a charcoal-like fertilizer called biochar, but ICC claims Aries is really making a “low-quality product that can be mixed with concrete” for construction. To ICC, Aries agenda is another type of green-thinking.

Said ICC, “. . . [corporations like Aries] still try to sneak themselves in neighborhoods populated mostly by Black and brown people who they think will just stay shut and let this happen, and they plan to sell the materials they’ll be BURNING to folks most likely outside of the area.”

. . . .
Ironbound Newark Industry row in the north-end side of the district that houses African Americans, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants, and its diaspora. Photo by Paul Sableman on Flickr.

Last year, ICC was one of the leads in the passage of one of the most progressive environmental justice bills in the country. The state bill gives the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection the power to deny companies that are “environmental and public health stressors.”

The legislation comes after New Jerseyans and grassroots campaigns protested for over a decade, dramatically elevated respiratory issues and other health problems experienced by residents who live in environmentally toxic areas. In the case of Ironbound, factories sit next door to residential homes. “There was a time in Newark where our children were being saddled with lead poisoning, and the number one reason they were missing schools was because of air quality issues and respiratory concerns,” Senator Cory Booker (D-NY) said to Tap Into Newark news about seeking environmental justice for a city he served as mayor prior to being a Congressional official.

Now that the bill has passed, residents and activists are pressing NJEP to not participate in double-speak by giving Aries the green light to construct its facilities.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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