EPA Announces Cleanup Plan for Radiation Technology Superfund Site in Rockaway Township, New Jersey

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Congressmember Rodney Frelinghuysen and EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck Tour Six Superfund Sites in Morris, Essex and Sussex Counties

New York, N.Y. -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck and Congressmember Rodney P. Frelinghuysen today announced a plan to demolish or remove 34 buildings and structures at the Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site in Rockaway Township, New Jersey. The buildings and structures on the 263-acre site are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and lead among other contaminants.

Congressmember Frelinghuysen and the EPA then toured six Superfund sites in Morris, Essex and Sussex Counties as part of an annual visit to check on progress at the sites. They were joined by state and local officials to highlight the success of the federal Superfund law in protecting the health of people who live and work near contaminated sites, creating jobs and boosting local economies.

“Each year, EPA joins Congressmember Rodney Frelinghuysen while he tours Superfund sites in New Jersey,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “New Jersey has the most Superfund cleanup sites in the nation. A strong national Superfund program is vital to protecting the health of people who live and work in every corner of New Jersey.”

Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. 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. Cleanups are only funded by taxpayer dollars when those responsible for the pollution cannot be found or are not financially viable.

The 263 acre Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site in Rockaway Township was used for testing and developing rocket motors and propellants. Groundwater at the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Due to its complexity, the EPA's cleanup of the Radiation Technology site has been conducted in phases. Alliant Techsystems, a successor to a past owner and operator, is cleaning up the groundwater and soil and is under EPA oversight. The company installed systems to monitor ground water and nearby drinking water wells. While the ground water is contaminated, that contamination is not impacting people’s drinking water wells. In 1994, the EPA finalized plans to install a system to extract and treat the contaminated groundwater. Alliant Techsystems is currently studying an alternative to a groundwater treatment system. They are testing a method that involves injection of emulsified oil to break up contaminants. The EPA removed 75 rusting and leaking drums and containers from a building at the site in March 2013. The EPA chose a plan to remove and properly dispose of badly deteriorated drums buried at the site in July 2014. That work is ongoing. Today the EPA finalized its plan to demolish, remove, or use others cleanup measures to address buildings and structures that are contaminated with PCBs, asbestos, and lead.

In addition to the Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site, the other sites on the tour include:

The Mansfield Trail Dump Superfund site, located in Byram Township, is in a wooded area near the intersection of the Mansfield bike path and Stanhope-Sparta Road. Sludge of unknown origin was deposited in trenches in the area and has contaminated the groundwater with volatile organic and benzene compounds. Benzene is cancer-causing. The groundwater is used by some nearby residents as drinking water. Vapors from the contaminated groundwater underneath area homes have seeped into some basements. The site was first addressed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, with the EPA taking over the lead when the site was added to the Superfund list in 2011. Prior to 2011, the NJDEP did extensive testing of drinking water wells and the air inside homes to determine if they were impacted by the contamination. The NJDEP subsequently installed carbon water filtration and treatment systems in 16 homes to remove contaminants from the drinking water. In addition, NJDEP installed ventilation systems in several homes to address the chemical vapors that had seeped into the basements. In 2012, EPA removed 11,700 tons of contaminated material from the dump areas and disposed of it off-site. A study to more fully determine the nature and extent of the groundwater contamination is currently underway.

The Rockaway Township Wells Superfund site, located in Rockaway Township, is a two-square-mile wellfield containing a cluster of three municipal wells within 100 feet of each other that are contaminated with various volatile organic chemicals from industrial buildings in the area. NJDEP is leading the cleanup, and has developed a plan to treat the contaminated groundwater and replace the township’s existing air stripper, which forces air through polluted groundwater to remove harmful chemicals. The air causes the chemicals to change from a liquid to a gas, which is then collected and cleaned. Sampling of several buildings has shown that chemical vapors have gotten into some buildings on the site. To address these problems, systems were installed to prevent soil vapors from entering two buildings. Groundwater from the area of drinking water supply wells is currently being treated to remove the contamination and provide the community a safe source of drinking water.

The Rockaway Borough Wellfield Superfund site includes three municipal water supply wells that supply drinking water to 11,000 people. In 1985, the NJDEP investigated the site and concluded that contamination found in the municipal water supply was coming from multiple source areas within the borough. The EPA investigated the contamination and determined that soil and groundwater was contaminated with perchloroethylene, an industrial solvent. The EPA also determined that a facility belonging to Klockner and Kockner was contaminating the soil with tetrachloroethene, a commonly used industrial solvent. The EPA has removed the contaminated soil and sent it to a facility certified to treat and dispose of it. In November 2011, EPA began operation of a groundwater treatment system to address perchloroethylene-contaminated groundwater in the East Main Street/Wall Street area of the site. In addition, work to remove and treat soil contaminated with lead at the Rockaway Borough site was completed in 2013.

The Caldwell Trucking Co. Superfund site is a former sewage hauling site occupying 11 acres in Fairfield. The Caldwell Trucking site consists of properties and groundwater contaminated by the disposal of residential, commercial and industrial septic waste. Caldwell Trucking disposed of this waste in unlined lagoons from the early 1950s until 1973. After 1973, Caldwell installed underground storage tanks for the storage of the waste. Other industrial facilities in the area may also have contributed to the groundwater contamination. The parties responsible for the cleanup have removed the contaminated soil and sludge from the lagoons and installed wells to monitor groundwater quality. All contaminated soil has also been removed or no longer poses a risk and impacted wetlands have been restored. Since 1981, more than 300 private wells in the area have been taken out of service due to contamination. The affected residences have been connected to the municipal drinking water supply system. A groundwater extraction and treatment system, which pumps the groundwater to the surface where it is treated, began operation in 2008. The air inside nearly 100 homes was tested and ventilation systems were installed in 18 of them to address vapors that had seeped from the contaminated groundwater underneath into the basements.

The Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation Superfund site in Fairfield was a metals molding facility, which operated machines using lubricating oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The company’s operations contaminated soil, groundwater and a building with PCBs. The nearest public drinking water wells are located less than one-half mile from the site. The water supply is monitored regularly to ensure the water quality meets drinking water standards and is safe to consume. Since 2002, the facility has been used by Frameware, Inc., a metal frame parts manufacturer and distributor. In May 2012, at the request of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA took samples inside and outside the building on the site. Based on the results of EPA’s sampling, the New Jersey Department of Health, in consultation with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, recommended that employees of the facility be relocated. Frameware, Inc. moved its operations and removed approximately 20 workers from the contaminated work environment. The EPA plans a study to more fully determine the nature and extent of the groundwater contamination.

For more information about Superfund sites in New Jersey and across the country, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund.

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