While we've all been enthralled by the dramatic disintegration of NJ governor Chris Christie's credibility after Bridgegate broke, Wayne Barrett has been digging up a skeleton of a different sort. In an article for the Daily News published today, Barrett shows how New Jersey's "dirtiest" power plant has remained open thanks to the governor and the plant's well-connected owners and lobbyists.

The Beasley Point Power Generating Plant is located near Beesley's Point, near Ocean City, the 14th most-contaminated metropolitan area in a list of 500, in part thanks to the coal-fired plant's refusal to upgrade. Democratic governors prior to Christie ordered the plant to install scrubbers or convert to natural gas, but Christie kept the plant open and used its status as a major polluter to kick it $400 million to build a gas pipeline through the Pinelands nature reserve, a pipeline that two Republican governors previously opposed.

The plant is represented by the law firms of David Samson and Rudy Giuliani, and its owners have extensive ties to Governor Cuomo. Wayne Barrett and his wife have a house that's 30 feet from the plant's property line.

I’ve spent a lifetime investigating just these kinds of deals, yet missed one so close to me I ran by the plant’s 175-foot smokestack whenever I jogged across the Beesley’s Point Bridge. We were often awakened by the 90-car trains hauling in the coal associated with 13 premature deaths a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force national study. We swam in the bay so contaminated by 360-degree water discharged by the plant that the Sierra Club sued to block it from killing “billions” of fish.

I live with questions about whether its fine-particle soot — high in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — has anything to do with why a lifelong nonsmoker and runner like me wound up with a lung affliction that has me on oxygen today, after making it through lung-cancer surgery last year.