New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated ground water beneath the White Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Newark, New Jersey. The ground water was contaminated with volatile organic compounds by past industrial activities at the site. Volatile organic compounds can cause serious damage to people’s health and the environment. The cleanup plan requires the injection of chemicals into the ground water that will break down the contamination. The ground water will be monitored and its use will be restricted. The EPA held a public meeting in Newark on August 2, 2012 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA took public comment for 60 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.
The final phase of the cleanup addresses the contaminated ground water. After extensive study, the EPA has concluded that it is not technically feasible to pump out and treat the contaminated ground water because of the complex rock formations underlying the site. The depth, nature and variety of the rock formations would present extreme technical challenges.
Instead, the plan requires bioremediation, the injection of chemicals into the ground water to promote the breakdown of the pollutants. The specific process to be used to inject the chemical additive will be determined by the EPA as part of the design of the cleanup. Once the process has begun, the EPA will collect samples to confirm that bioremediation of the ground water is effective. The EPA is proposing to install additional monitoring wells to monitor the ground water and to put into place restrictions that will prevent its use as a source of drinking water in the future. The EPA is requiring periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the level and extent of contaminants are declining and that people’s health and the environment are protected.
The White Chemical Corporation site, which covers 4.4 acres, is located at 660 Frelinghuysen Avenue in Newark, and is surrounded by many residential, commercial and industrial properties. Beginning in the 1930s, portions of the site were used by multiple businesses for industrial activities including the manufacture of acid chlorides and fire retardants. The White Chemical Corporation operated a chemical manufacturing facility at the site from 1983 to 1990 and was cited by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for multiple environmental violations before the company abandoned the facility. Thousands of drums were left behind, with many of them leaking hazardous chemicals. The site was added to the federal Superfund list of the country’s most hazardous waste sites in 1991. For a history of the cleanup, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/whitechem/.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. To date, the EPA has spent about $20 million on the cleanup of the White Chemical site. The estimated cost of the final phase of the cleanup is $25 million. The EPA sought and recovered some of its costs from the parties responsible for the contamination.
To review the plan for the White Chemical Superfund site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/whitechem.