May 21, 2015

EPA Seeks Input on Plan to Address Contaminated Groundwater at New Jersey Superfund Site

A public meeting will be held May 28

EPA New Jersey Superfund groundwater contamination

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a plan to clean up contaminated groundwater at the Curtis Specialty Papers Superfund site in Milford and Alexandria Township, N.J. The site includes the 86-acre historic former Milford Mill, which converted paper pulp to paper for 96 years before shutting down in 2003.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. EPA searches for the parties legally responsible for contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and seeks to hold them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The cleanup of the Curtis Specialty Papers Superfund site is being conducted and paid for by the International Paper Co. and Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP with oversight by EPA.

Past operations, including of the predecessors of the companies conducting the work at the site, contaminated the soil with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and contaminated groundwater in several areas of the site with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). PCBs persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.

Previous cleanup work has addressed the immediate risks and the sources of contamination at the site, including PCB-contaminated soil, buildings and structures, and debris, among other risks. EPA’s proposed plan addresses the VOCs in the groundwater, the final part of the site that requires a cleanup under Superfund. In the proposed plan, EPA is proposing bioremediation, monitoring and limiting the use of the groundwater to protect people’s health.

EPA will hold a public meeting on May 28, 2015, to explain the proposed plan and is encouraging public comments. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Milford Firehouse, 21 Water Street, Milford, N.J. Comments will be accepted until June 29, 2015.

“The sources of contamination have been addressed by successor companies of the polluters,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “EPA’s proposed plan to address groundwater contamination at the site represents the last chapter in this cleanup. The EPA encourages the public to attend the May 28 meeting at Milford and share their views on the proposed plan.”

In 2007, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection turned the site over to EPA, which added the site to its federal Superfund list in 2009.

From 2007 to 2014, EPA conducted and oversaw several elements of this cleanup, including removal of hazardous materials, storage tanks, oil-containing electrical equipment, asbestos, construction and demolition debris, concrete, scrap metal and contaminated soil. More than 10,500 cu yd of soil were removed. In addition, a dozen buildings, garages and other structures were demolished, and six wells used by the facility were closed and dismantled. A large outdoor basin that was used to aerate wastewater from the operation was demolished, and the area was restored to a vegetated, open habitat area. The slopes along the Quequacommisacong Creek, which had eroded, were restored and replanted.

The proposed plan to address groundwater calls for bioremediation using non-hazardous additives to break down the VOCs in the groundwater. The specific types of additives to be used will be determined by EPA as part of the design of the cleanup. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring, testing and further studies will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy. The proposed plan also would prohibit the use of groundwater from the site as drinking water through restrictions.

Written comments about the proposed plan may be mailed or emailed to:
Alison Hess, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10007
[email protected]