A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

History: Pollution in the Matawan Journal (1923, 1924)

According to the 8 Jun 1923 edition of The Matawan Journal, the Matawan Township Board of Health heard a complaint from the public that a chemical plant in Morganville was polluting the stream that ran through Magnolia Farm. The chemicals in the water were thought to be a danger both to cattle and human beings. The clerk was instructed to notify the Marlboro Board of Health so that the issue could be addressed at once.

Magnolia Farm is the property of the famous poet Philip Freneau. That area of the Township was eventually named Freneau in the poet's honor and was annexed by Matawan Borough. The stream is very likely Gravelly Brook. See the History of Freneau's House in Matawan for details.

Joseph S Frelinghuysen, Sr, former US Senator (R-NJ, 1917-1923), approached his former colleagues to advocate for the Anti-Oil Pollution League, according to page 8 of the 18 Jan 1924 edition of The Matawan Journal. The league wanted legislation to protect the shore from oil pollution from refineries and oil refuse from ships. Frelinghuysen was born in Raritan.

State Senator William A Stevens of Monmouth County brought up the same problem in an interview found in the 5 Sep 1924 edition of The Matawan Journal. Doesn't sound much different from today.

Year after year the whole North Jersey Coast is daily polluted with refuse oil and and garbage; year after year we have appealed with righteous indignation to our representatives at Washington for a drastic remedial act, a law with teeth in it, and a governmental policy inaugurated that will put an end to a nuisance that is a menace to the health, happiness and prosperity of all. Organizations have been formed; hearings at Washington and elsewhere conducted; an inoffensive act has been passed, and seemingly, the shipping interests go on defiantly dumping the refuse oil into the Atlantic Ocean to be in turn rolled up on our beaches.


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