Jul 06, 2011

EPA Seeks Public Input on Groundwater Cleanup Plan for N.J. Superfund Site

New plan involves injecting additive into groundwater to absorb contaminants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yeaterday announced a proposed plan to clean up the groundwater at the NL Industries Inc. Superfund site in Pedricktown, N.J., which is contaminated with heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. The 44-acre site is a former lead smelting facility where lead from old automotive batteries was drained of sulfuric acid, crushed and processed for lead recovery. The Delaware River is approximately 1.5 miles from the site. The Cape May aquifer underlies the site and serves as a source of drinking water and water for crop irrigation. Some area homes are connected to a municipal water supply that provides a safe source of drinking water. Other residents in the area receive their drinking water from private wells, which are monitored to ensure that they meet drinking water standards.

EPA has proposed an innovative approach to clean up the contaminated groundwater: injecting a non-hazardous additive into the groundwater to absorb the metals instead of using the more traditional method of pumping the ground water to the surface and treating it to remove contaminants. EPA will hold a public meeting on July 7 to explain the proposed plan and will accept comments until July 21.

The NL Industries site was added to the Superfund list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 1983. Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, EPA divided the investigation and cleanup into multiple phases. Previously, EPA removed contaminated waste, soil, sediment, piles of lead, debris and standing water; demolished contaminated buildings on the site; secured other areas; and conducted sampling and monitoring activities. Cleanup work at the site has been conducted by both EPA and the party responsible for the contamination, with EPA oversight.

EPA originally planned to pump the contaminated ground water to the surface, treat it and discharge it into the Delaware River. This type of treatment is no longer needed because pollutant levels in the groundwater have gone down significantly as the sources of the contamination have been removed. EPA conducted a review of newer treatment methods and is now proposing to inject a non-hazardous additive into the groundwater that will absorb metal compounds such as lead and cadmium and remove the dissolved contaminants from the groundwater. EPA will conduct a study to determine the type and quantity of the additive to be used. Sampling and further study will also be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy.

EPA is requesting public comments on the proposed plan and will hold a public meeting to explain the plan and receive comments at 6:30 p.m. on July 7 at the cafeteria of the Oldmans Township School, 10 Freed Road, Pedricktown, NJ. Comments will be accepted until July 21.