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Middlesex County is host to over 3,500 facilities that use, produce, or store hazardous materials. Chemicals are transported along the counties 492 highway miles, 141 railway miles, 155 transmission pipeline miles and 12 petrochemical docks along the Arthur Kill and Raritan River. This is 30% of all facilities in the State of New Jersey. These facilities also produce the widest variety of chemicals in the State. The Hazmat Unit provides each of these facilities with an emergency response capability 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service has made it possible for some facilities to continue operating in Middlesex County instead of moving out of state and recently has been a factor in some facilities actually moving into Middlesex County.

The primary agency for hazardous materials response in the County of Middlesex is the Middlesex County Hazardous Materials Unit. The Hazmat Unit, started in 1979 by six municipalities, is one of New Jersey’s first regional emergency services. The Unit was absorbed into the County government in 1981 under the guidance of Freeholder Director Stephen J. Capestro. This has allowed all twenty-five municipalities to have specialty response capabilities without having to duplicate expensive equipment and extensive training required to provide competent service. The Unit is comprised of full-time career employees who are on call twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven days a week. The Unit is an active participant in the New Jersey County Environmental Health Act (CEHA) having signed agreements with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for Hazardous Substance Emergency Response.