On 1 June 2009, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released a memo obtained from the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that detailed a proposal for placing restrictions on the public release of scientific reports. The memo, written by the DEP’s director of policy, provides guidelines that would prevent employees from disclosing draft scientific reports that have not passed through upper management and the DEP press office.
This directive follows the release of an April 2009 report on chromium-6 soil cleanup standards in Hudson County. The report suggested that all previous efforts to clean up this toxin were inadequate, which would force the DEP to review and redo all of these efforts.
Environmental groups, including PEER, have denounced the memo, claiming that the DEP is trying to suppress scientific findings that are inconvenient to the agency. The DEP has countered that the department is completely transparent, and the aim of the new directive is to ensure that the science has been peer-reviewed and finalized before it is made part of the public record.
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