Middlesex County Solid Waste Advisory Committee Unanimously Approves Carteret Soil Safe Recycling Facility Project

CARTERET–The Middlesex County Solid Waste Advisory Committee unanimously voted to recommend inclusion of Soil Safe’s proposed Class B Recycling Facility in the county’s Solid Waste Plan. The vote was 19 in favor of the application, zero votes in opposition and five abstentions by commissioners who were not present at the previous meeting.

Mayor Daniel J. Reiman said, “This project provides a win-win scenario for the people of Carteret. Environmentally, we will see one of the most contaminated properties in the state of New Jersey remediated, we will preserve over 100 acres of land adjacent to the Rahway River through deed restriction, and we will significantly reduce the risk of contamination from this site affecting the Rahway River.” Reiman continued, “Economically, with the creation of 20-30 acres of usable commercial property we will realize the creation of jobs and an enhanced ratable from a property that has gone unutilized for many years.”

Under the plan, Soil Safe would operate a recycling facility on the former American Cyanamid (Cytek) Property. Cytek used by the property between the 1930s and 1970s to dispose of over two million tons of alum sludge and yellow prussiate of soda (YPS) sludge in manmade containment holding ponds. Cyanide is the primary contaminant in the YPS that was dumped between 1930 and 1970.

The alum ponds were abandoned many years ago and the site received a limited “No Further Action Letter” from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. However visible signs of site contamination led the current property owner, Rahway Arch, to conduct further environmental investigation which determined that the property was in need of further remediation. Rahway Arch engaged the services of a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) who is charged with overseeing clean-up of the property.

As part of that effort, Soil Safe will operate the Class-B recycling facility which will treat only non-hazardous recyclable ID-27 soil, mix the recycled product with concrete and use the material onsite to cap the existing contamination. An additional two feet of clean fill will be placed over the cap to allow for the reclamation of uplands property. An additional 20 to 25 acres will be converted to a commercially utilizable pad adjacent to the IPort 12 site. The plan also calls for maintaining and enhancing all wetlands that currently exist on the property, which is adjacent to the Rahway River.

“Because of the nature of the contamination, the property presents unique geotechnical challenges that have prevented previous attempts at development.” Reiman pointed out, “This project, unlike previous attempts at development, includes remediation as a vital component to the overall development strategy. By doing so Rahway Arch and Soil Safe were able to present a plan that was environmentally as well as economically appealing. They are to be applauded for their efforts.”

The project which was previously approved by the Carteret Borough Council and the Carteret Planning Board now moves on to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders who will make a final determination whether to include the project in the county’s Solid Waste Plan.

Various environmental groups, including the Rahway River Association, Edison Wetlands Association (EWA), NY/NJ Baykeeper, Clean Ocean Action and New Jersey Conservation Foundation, oppose the project.

“The lower Rahway River boasts some amazing biodiversity that survives amid heavy industry and decades of human activity. This project threatens to erase any progress made in restoring habitat for future generations to enjoy,” said Rahway River Association Executive Director Jeffery Jotz. “The Rahway River Association urges Middlesex County to hold this plan to greater scrutiny so as to safeguard human health and our environment.”

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