STATE — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) were in Morganville today to announce the completion of a $50 million contaminated soil cleanup, which clears the way for the redevelopment of the property.
The site received $33 million in new funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to accelerate the hazardous waste cleanup already underway. Enck and Pallone also visited three other federal Superfund sites in Monmouth and Middlesex counties to highlight the success of the federal Superfund law in protecting the health of people who live and work near contaminated sites and in creating jobs.
Superfund is the federal cleanup program established in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. When sites are placed on the Superfund list, the EPA looks for parties responsible for the pollution and requires them to pay for the cleanups. Cleanups are only funded by taxpayer dollars when the responsible parties cannot be found or are not financially viable.
“Today, Congressmember Pallone and I got a first-hand look at how the cleanups of Imperial Oil and other Superfund sites are protecting people’s health and the environment,” said Enck. “Sites like Imperial Oil can be put back to good use. The site has gone from being a polluted wasteland to area with trees, shrubs, grass, restored wetlands, a pond and a bike path.”
“Cleaning up toxic waste sites in New Jersey not only protects public health and the environment, but in 2011 federal Superfund cleanups created about 2300 jobs,” said Enck.
Soil on the 15-acre Imperial Oil site, which contained a facility that reclaimed and processed waste oil, was contaminated with arsenic, lead, PCBs and other pollutants. Arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, liver, and prostate. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of health problems in adults. PCBs are likely cancer-causing chemicals and can cause neurological damage, especially in children.
The Imperial Oil facility operated from the 1950s until 2007. Improper work practices and piles of waste from oil reclamation activities contaminated soil and sediment on the plant property, in adjacent wetlands, the nearby Birch Swamp Brook and on several residential properties. Ground water underlying the site was also contaminated.
The site cleanup was originally overseen by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The NJDEP excavated soil, cleaned up wetlands and sediment in the brook and removed oil that was floating underneath the ground on top of the ground water. The EPA took over the cleanup of the property in 2006 at NJDEP’s request. In 2008, the EPA completed the demolition of structures on the site, including all production, storage and maintenance buildings, as well as above-ground tanks. The EPA used $33 million in ARRA funds to complete the work.
In 2011, the EPA completed the excavation of the soil and the restoration of the industrial property. The agency is in the process of completing seeding and final restoration of the property and the wetlands. The EPA has also recently cleaned up contaminated soil on two residential properties. The EPA continues to investigate the ground water contamination from the site to determine the best course of action to address it.
The second stop on today’s tour was to the adjoining Horseshoe Road and Atlantic Resources Superfund sites in Sayreville, which are located on the south shore of the Raritan River. Both sites are contaminated with a variety of chemicals, including volatile organic compounds and heavy metals, which have entered drainage channels that run off into an 8-acre marsh adjacent to the Raritan River. The EPA completed the soil cleanup at the Horseshoe Road portion of the site in 2009, with the assistance of $5 million in ARRA funding. The EPA’s remaining cleanup plan includes a soil cleanup at the Atlantic Resources site and the dredging and excavation of contaminated marsh and river sediments. These sediments will then be disposed of offsite, and the dredged areas will be backfilled with clean sediments.
The final Superfund site visited today was the Chemical Insecticide site in Edison. By 2005, approximately 241,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil had been excavated and removed from the former home of an insecticide manufacturing facility. The EPA has put into place a long-term ground water monitoring program to ensure that any contaminated ground water at this site is addressed. The site is now owned by the Township of Edison.
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