Site contaminated with PCBs, dioxin, benzene & more
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a plan to clean up contamination at the Standard Chlorine Chemical Co. Inc. Superfund site in Kearny, N.J. The site is part of the N.J. Meadowlands and on the banks of the Hackensack River.
Past manufacturing operations by various companies led to extensive contamination of the site with a number of hazardous chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin, both of which can cause cancer and other health damage. This segment of the cleanup is estimated to cost $11 million.
EPA will hold a public meeting Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. to explain the proposed plan and accept public comments. The meeting will be held at Council Chambers, Kearny Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave, Kearny, N.J. EPA will accept comments until Aug. 26, 2016.
Previous actions have been taken by parties responsible for the pollution with oversight by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and EPA to address the immediate risks to the public. Dioxin and asbestos have been collected and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste. Many of the contaminated buildings on the site were demolished and removed. Two contaminated lagoons were emptied of water, filled with clean material and covered. A slurry wall was installed between the site and the Hackensack River to keep contamination from moving into the river. A system of pumps is being used to bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be cleaned. Fish consumption warnings have been issued for the Hackensack River.
EPA proposes the installation of a targeted cap that extends over the remaining uncovered areas and the upgrade of existing covers to prevent soil disturbance. Some areas of the site where soil is heavily contaminated have already been covered by a cap to prevent contaminants from spreading. EPA’s plan proposes the demolition of five dilapidated buildings remaining on the site and the continuation, maintenance and operation of all the previous cleanup remedies. The plan proposes land use controls, such as a deed notice and other controls that would prohibit the use of the groundwater and prohibit using the site for any residential purposes. EPA would conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.
The 25-acre site was used for chemical manufacturing by various companies from the early 1900s to the 1990s. Operations at the site included the refinement of naphthalene for use in the production of certain industrial products, the processing of liquid petroleum naphthalene, the manufacturing of lead-acid batteries and drain-cleaner products and the packing of dichlorobenzene products. The soil, groundwater and two lagoons were contaminated with dioxin, benzene, naphthalene, PCBs and volatile organic compounds. The site was littered with tanks and drums containing hazardous substances including dioxin and asbestos. After sampling the site and requiring short-term pollution control measures, NJDEP requested that EPA add the site to the Superfund list. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in September 2007.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters, rather than taxpayers, fund the cleanups. EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. To date, the cleanup of the Standard Chlorine Chemical Co. Inc. Superfund site has been conducted and paid for by Apogent Transition Corp., Beazer East Inc., Cooper Industries LLC and Occidental Chemical Corp. with oversight by EPA. Tierra Solutions Inc. participated on behalf of Occidental Chemical Corp. To view the proposed cleanup plan, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/standard-chlorine.
Written comments may be sent to:
Alison Hess, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10007