MIDDLESEX COUNTY—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it will begin a full investigation of the type and extent of the contamination at the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site in Old Bridge and Sayreville within a few weeks.
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck was joined by Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Middlesex) for the announcement and a tour of the site. EPA technical experts provided an update on efforts to protect the health of people who live in the communities affected by the lead contamination found in the soil, sediment and water.
Lead is a toxic metal that is especially dangerous to children six years old and younger because their growing bodies can absorb more of it than adults. If undetected, children with high levels of lead in their blood can suffer damage to their brains and nervous systems and have behavior and learning problems.
The Raritan Bay Slag site was put on the federal Superfund list in November 2009 after sampling revealed elevated levels of lead in the jetty and seawall. Some samples contained between 15 to 20 percent lead.
“Congressmember Pallone and I came to Laurence Harbor today for a first-hand look at the contamination, and to announce the kick-off of our investigation, the first phase in the Superfund cleanup process,” said Enck. “Our goal is to clean up this site so that everyone, especially the children of this community, will be able to use the beach without being concerned about their health.”
The Raritan Bay Slag site currently consists of three areas that contain lead slag from blast furnace bottoms, a byproduct of metal smelting, which was used to construct a seawall and a jetty along the southern shore of the Raritan Bay in Old Bridge Township and Sayreville, and areas of Margaret’s Creek in Old Bridge.
The first area is the Laurence Harbor seawall, adjacent to the Old Bridge Waterfront Park in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge Township. The second area consists of the western jetty in Sayreville and extends from the Cheesequake Creek Inlet into Raritan Bay. The third is approximately 50 acres associated with Margaret’s Creek, where elevated lead levels have been identified.
EPA will begin sampling areas of the beach and the grass in the Laurence Harbor Waterfront Park in mid-April to determine if contamination is present in these areas. The Agency expects the sampling work to be completed by Memorial Day. EPA will also be working to rid the beach of debris, seaweed and other material that washed up during the spring storms.
EPA is developing a community involvement plan to facilitate two-way communication between the community impacted by the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site and EPA. The Agency will be engaging members of the Sayreville and Old Bridge communities to ensure that their concerns are reflected in the community involvement plan.
In 2009, EPA posted notices in both English and Spanish in the areas of concern, warning of the threat posed by the elevated levels of lead. Additionally, fencing was installed to restrict access. The U.S. Coast Guard took samples along the shoreline of the Arthur Kill, Raritan River and lower portions of Staten Island this spring to identify other areas that could have been potentially affected by the slag. The data collected is currently being reviewed to determine if further sampling is needed to paint a clearer picture of the extent of the contamination on the beach, and in the water and ground water.
To be interviewed for the community involvement plan, the public can contact EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator, Pat Seppi at firstname.lastname@example.org
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