SOUTH PLAINFIELD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a plan for the contaminated ground water at the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund site in South Plainfield that will prevent its use as a source of drinking water.
The ground water associated with the site, located at 333 Hamilton Boulevard in South Plainfield, became contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic compounds from past industrial activities. PCBs are likely cancer causing chemicals and can have serious neurological effects. Volatile organic compounds can cause serious damage to people’s health. Under a plan proposed by the EPA, the ground water will be monitored and the use of that ground water will be restricted.
The ground water at the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics site is contained within underground layers of rock and soil. Municipal water supply wells in Middlesex County draw ground water from some portions of the rock formations to the north of the site. The plan proposed today will require enhanced and continued monitoring of the ground water and will prevent the contaminated site ground water from being used as a source of drinking water in the future. The Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund site is part of a Borough of South Plainfield redevelopment area.
The EPA will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. to explain the proposed plan and is encouraging public comments. The meeting will be held at the South Plainfield Senior Center located at 90 Maple Avenue, South Plainfield. Comments will be accepted until Aug. 20.
Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, Inc., manufactured electronics parts at the 26-acre facility from 1936 to 1962. PCBs and solvents were used in the manufacturing process and the company disposed of PCB-contaminated materials and other hazardous wastes at the facility property.
Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the EPA divided the investigation and cleanup into four phases. The proposed plan is for the third phase of the long-term cleanup.
Under the first phase of cleanup, which is continuing, the EPA has cleaned up nearby residential, commercial, and municipal properties. PCB-contaminated soil has been removed from four residential properties near the former facility property. EPA has since identified eight additional properties and expects to begin to clean up these properties in August 2012. This work will be completed before the winter. Investigations are still being performed on several other properties as part of this phase of the cleanup.
Under phase two of the cleanup, the EPA cleaned up the contaminated buildings and soils at the former facility property. EPA has demolished 18 contaminated buildings and removed 26,400 tons of building debris off-site to be disposed of properly. The EPA has also excavated approximately 21,000 tons of contaminated debris and soil from an undeveloped area of the facility. Using $30 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the EPA continued the second phase of cleanup by treating contaminated soil on-site using a technology that heats the material so that contaminants can be pulled out and captured. Soil that could not be cleaned using this method was taken off-site for disposal at a licensed facility.
The third phase of the long-term cleanup focuses on the contaminated ground water. After extensive soil and ground water studies, the EPA has concluded that it is not feasible to treat the contaminated site ground water because of the complex rock formations underlying the site. The depth, nature and variety of the rock formations would present extreme technical challenges for any active treatment. The EPA is proposing to install additional ground water monitoring wells to monitor the ground water and to put into place restrictions that will prevent the use of untreated ground water as drinking water. In addition, the EPA’s plan calls for periodic sampling to ensure that potentially harmful vapors from the contaminated ground water do not seep into nearby buildings. Recent periodic indoor air testing inside nearby buildings shows that vapors are not currently getting into the structures.
In the fourth and final phase of the long-term cleanup, the EPA will focus on the contaminated sediment of the Bound Brook. The potential for ground water contamination to impact surface water and sediment in the Bound Brook is also being evaluated as part of this phase. A cleanup plan for phase four is expected in 2013.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. To date, the EPA’s cleanup costs for this site exceed $133 million. The EPA will seek to recover some of its costs from the parties responsible for the contamination.
Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
Diego Garcia, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2
290 Broadway – 19th floor
New York, N.Y. 10007-1866
For more information on the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund site, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/cornell.
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