EPA suspends Cinnaminson Superfund sanctions

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STATE–  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that no further action is needed to address the capping of two closed New Jersey landfills.

The Cinnaminson Groundwater Contamination Superfund site, which covers about 400 acres in the townships of Cinnaminson and Delran, includes residential and industrial properties and the two landfills.

As a result of operations throughout the area, the groundwater and soil were contaminated with volatile organic compounds and heavy metals that can have serious health effects. The EPA will require that the groundwater associated with the landfills continues to be monitored and treated, if necessary.

The EPA held a public meeting in Cinnaminson on May 12, 2014 to explain its plan, allowing public comment for 30 days before finalizing its decision.

To date, the landfills have been covered with protective caps to prevent water from flowing through them and a system has been constructed to collect gas generated from the landfills. In addition, contaminated groundwater in the area had been pumped and then treated to prevent contaminants from spreading.

An assessment regarding the continued operation of the groundwater extraction and treatment system is ongoing. The local drinking water supply is monitored regularly to ensure that water meets drinking water standards and is safe to consume, which it currently is.

The EPA determined that no further actions with respect to the capping of the landfills are needed because the actions already taken are effective. The EPA reviewed conditions at the site and has determined that the threat of further release of contaminants from the landfills to the groundwater has been addressed.  Groundwater monitoring conducted over the past 26 years confirms the effectiveness of the previous capping of the landfills. 

The landfill property on the site was originally a sand and gravel mining operation. Later, solid waste including hazardous substances were dumped in the mining pits. Sanitary Landfill, Inc. operated the landfills from 1970 until they closed in the 1980s. The site was first addressed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, with the EPA taking over when the site was added to the federal Superfund list in 1986.

The EPA’s remediation of the site has been conducted in phases to facilitate the long-term restoration of the area. In 1987, Sanitary Landfill, Inc. covered the landfills with a clay cap to keep water from mixing with the contaminants and spreading the groundwater contamination. A landfill gas management system to collect and control landfill gas was expanded in 1996.

In the first phase of the EPA cleanup in 2000, SC Holdings, Inc., successor to Sanitary Landfill, Inc., constructed a groundwater extraction and treatment system to clean the polluted groundwater and installed wells to measure and monitor groundwater contamination. The groundwater monitoring for volatile organic compounds and metals is ongoing and performed twice a year.

In September 2010, the EPA investigated whether vapors from the groundwater contamination in the area were getting into nearby homes. Approximately 60 properties were sampled and two required mitigation systems to vent the contaminated vapors. These systems have been installed.

In the second phase of the project, announced today, SC Holdings, Inc. will continue to monitor the groundwater and the landfill caps to ensure that people’s health and the environment are protected. The landfill caps are working well and the EPA will continue to monitor the site and can require more actions if site conditions should change. The EPA is currently assessing the need for continued operation of the groundwater extraction and treatment system.

The third and fourth phases of the cleanup will address soil and groundwater contamination in other areas of the site.

The Superfund program operated on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The polluter pays principle has typically not been fully implemented in U.S. laws and programs. For example, drinking water and sewage treatment services are subsidized and there are limited mechanisms in place to fully assess polluters for treatment costs.

The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The work with respect to the landfills at the Cinnaminson Groundwater Contamination Superfund site is being conducted and paid for by SC Holdings, Inc. with oversight by the EPA.

 

The Record of Decision detailing this remedy at the site is available at the Cinnaminson Groundwater Contamination Superfund site: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/cinnaminson/


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