New York, N.Y. -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck and Congressmember Rodney P. Frelinghuysen today announced the successful removal of 75 drums and containers of hazardous waste from the Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site in Rockaway Township, NJ. The officials were in Morris, Essex and Sussex Counties to review and assess progress on Superfund cleanups at five hazardous waste 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. Soil and ground water at these sites are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, which can have serious health effects, including liver damage and an increased risk of cancer.
“Congressmember Rodney Frelinghuysen and I got a first-hand look at how Superfund cleanups are protecting people’s health and the environment in New Jersey, which has the most Superfund sites of any state in the country,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “No state benefits more from EPA’s Superfund program than New Jersey, where the program is protecting people’s health by removing the contamination left behind by New Jersey’s industrial past.”
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. When sites are placed on the Superfund list, the EPA looks for parties responsible for the pollution and requires them to pay for the cleanups. Cleanups are only funded by taxpayer dollars when those responsible for the pollution cannot be found or are not financially viable.
The Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site in Rockaway Township is a 263-acre site that was used for testing and developing rocket motors and developing propellants. Ground water at the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds. The EPA's cleanup of the Radiation Technology site has been conducted in phases to facilitate the long-term restoration of the area. The work is being done by the company responsible for the pollution, Alliant Techsystems, with EPA oversight. During the first phase of the cleanup, the company installed wells to measure and monitor ground water contamination. Nearby residential drinking water wells were also sampled to ensure that drinking water was not affected. To date, the sampling has shown that the drinking water wells are not contaminated. The monitoring of the ground water and the drinking water wells continues. In the second phase of the cleanup, deteriorated drums buried in a waste disposal area of the site will be removed and sent off site for proper disposal. In addition, a previously locked building on the site that contained drums was broken into in early 2013, allowing potential exposure to the drums inside. The EPA removed about 75 rusting and leaking drums and containers from the building in March 2013. The cleanup work performed so far by the company responsible for the pollution has cost about $4.3 million.
In addition to the Radiation Technology, Inc. site, the other sites on the tour include:
The Mansfield Trail Dump 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 ground water with volatile organic and benzene compounds. Benzene is known to be cancer-causing. The ground water is used by some nearby residents as drinking water. Vapors from the contaminated ground water 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 had done 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 ground water contamination is currently underway.
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 initiated a followup investigation to identify the sources of contamination, determine its extent and evaluate potential cleanup methods. These investigations confirmed the presence of perchloroethylene contamination and determined that a facility belonging to Klockner and Kockner was responsible for contaminating the soil with tetrachloroethene, a commonly used industrial solvent. These substances are volatile organic compounds. The EPA has removed the contaminated soil and sent it to a facility certified to treat and dispose of it. The EPA installed a treatment system to clean up the ground water contamination. In November 2011, EPA began operation of a ground water treatment system to address perchloroethylene-contaminated ground water 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. To date, the cleanup has created 181 jobs and cost approximately $30 million.
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. A NJDEP cleanup plan called for the treatment of the contaminated ground water and the replacement of the township’s existing air stripper, which forces air through polluted ground water 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, a system was installed in two buildings to prevent soil vapors from entering them. Ground water from the area of drinking water supply wells is treated to remove the contamination and provide the community a safe source of drinking water.
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 ground water 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 ground water contamination. The parties responsible for the cleanup have removed the contaminated soil and sludge from the lagoons and installed wells to monitor ground water quality. All contaminated soil has also been removed or no longer poses a risk and impacted wetlands have been restored. Since 1981, over 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 system to pump the ground water to the surface where it can be treated was installed in 2008. The air inside about 100 homes was tested and ventilation systems were installed in about 18 homes to address vapors that had seeped from the contaminated ground water underneath into the basements. To date, the cleanup has cost approximately $33 million.
For more information about Superfund sites in New Jersey and across the country, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund.