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Riverside, NJ Residents Angry Over Asbestos At Old Hospital Site

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By Robin Rieger

RIVERSIDE, NEW JERSEY (CBS) — “I want it cleaned up,” says Riverside resident Bob Grab, referring to the old Zurbrugg Hospital site.

He can see from his home what’s left of the tattered and shredded tarps that barely cover the piles of construction debris, portions of which the EPA says contain asbestos.

“I went to the township, I asked what was going to be done about it, [they told me] ‘Deps going to handle it or the builder’s going to handle it,’” says Grab.

Eleven months ago, we reported that state investigators found bags containing asbestos buried in the ground, in dumpsters and scattered in a boiler room that still stands during a criminal investigation. Instead of getting cleaned up by the developer, the Teicher organization, it’s become a source of tension between neighbors and township officials.

“How does it make me feel? Angry, frustrated,” says Judy Kerchner, who lives next to the site and also says it’s not secure.

“I see kids who are up and down on the rubble,” Kerchner adds.

She also told us that warning signs that used to read “Danger, asbestos. Do not enter,” are missing from the fences.

Township business administrator Meghan Jack says the EPA may be able to move things along faster, but they haven’t received a timeline.

“We have been told they are working with the owner of the property and his attorney in order to access the sight for remediation,” says Jack.

Nearby residents have letters from the state about the asbestos and have even had their homes tested, but Jack says Riverside never got a report that tells them what’s in the piles.

“It bothers me because they’re our advocates, or they’re supposed to be our advocates,” says Kerchner.

Attempts to reach owner Fred Teicher and his environmental attorney by phone were unsuccessful.