A new report finds dozens of New Jersey chemical facilities storing billions of gallons of toxic waste are located in flood plains near rivers and streams, and could be flooded in the event of a major hurricane or powerful nor’easter.

“As extreme weather events become more frequent and more severe, these sites are becoming more dangerous and we shouldn’t wait for the next Sandy to realize that chemical facilities in our flood plains really is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Doug O’Malley, the director of the advocacy group Environment New Jersey.

He said at least 31 chemical facilities that handle hundreds and thousands of gallons of toxic material are located within a flood zone.

"Just because these facilities have always operated in flood plains doesn’t mean that they need to continue to use the same toxic chemicals," he said. "There are safer alternatives these facilities could be adopting.”

He said if chemical facilities flood and toxins are released into waterways, it will cause a domino disaster effect.

“These chemicals don’t go away, and they have a real impact on our drinking water sources and they have a real impact on human health," he said.

O’Malley stressed this threat is not theoretical.

He noted we’ve already seen several chemical disasters in waterways including the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the toxic soup created when hurricane floodwaters hit Houston a little over a year ago.

The study examines dangers posed to waterways from 31 chemical plants as well as pipelines, fracking, waste pits, oil trains, coal ash ponds and factory farm manure lagoons.

Sixteen of these facilities are within the Jersey City-Newark area, including the Hackensack River.

The companies with the highest number of hazardous storage units on site include International-Matex Tank Terminals, a chemical storage and transfer company; Chemtex, a chemical importer for the fragrance industry; and Buckeye Pennsauken Terminal, a warehousing and storage facility in South Jersey.

He said chemical facilities should be encouraged to adopt safer technology and alternatives to help prevent a disaster.

The report, "Accidents Waiting to Happen: Toxic Threats to Our Rivers, Lakes and Streams," was prepared by the Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group.

NJ chemical facilities that are located in flood plains include:

International-Matex Tank TerminalsStorage & transfer shipmentsHudson
Chemtex USAChemical fragrance importerEssex
Buckeye Pennsauken TerminalWarehousing & storageCamden
Buckeye TerminalWarehousing & storageEssex
Harris CorporationElectronic assemblyEssex
Lawson ProductsDistribution centerEssex
Citroil EnterprisesManufacturing food flavorsBergen
Salomone BrothersGeneral contractorPassaic
Eastern Concrete MaterialsReady-mix concreteHudson
International Flavors & FragrancesFragrance researchMonmouth
New York TerminalsChemical storage terminalUnion
Broadview TechnologiesDistributor of phosphatesEssex

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com