US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

EPA Finalizes Pollution Cleanup Plan for Wall Township, Manasquan Borough and Sea Girt, New Jersey Cleanup Expected to Cost $19 Million


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site in Wall Township, Manasquan Borough and Sea Girt, New Jersey. Previous dry cleaning operations in Wall Township contaminated soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds, including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). Exposure to these chemicals can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer. The EPA plan will require the excavation and treatment of contaminated soil and the treatment of some ground water.

“Dry cleaning operations have left an expensive legacy of contamination and health risks for the people of three New Jersey communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA plan to clean up soil and ground water contamination will eliminate the source of the hazards and protect people’s health and their communities into the future.”

The EPA held a public meeting on August 27, 2013 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA received public input for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

White Swan Cleaners and Sun Cleaners operated in the area between 1960 and 1991 and are believed to have polluted the soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds. Vapors from the chemical contamination have seeped into some residential and commercial buildings in the vicinity. Area residents receive their drinking water from deep ground water that runs well below the layer of ground water that is contaminated. It is monitored regularly to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

In December 2001, the EPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection began investigating whether vapors from the contamination in the area were getting into homes, schools and businesses. Of approximately 500 properties sampled to date, 34 have needed mitigation systems to vent the vapors. These have all been installed. Sampling designed to identify any homes that may have unacceptable levels of PCE or TCE vapors in their basements is an ongoing program. The EPA added the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners site to the federal Superfund list of most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2004.

The EPA plan requires actions to address the sources of the contamination. Approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil at the former White Swan property will be dug up and disposed of at a facility licensed to receive the waste. The excavated area will then be filled with clean soil.

At the former Sun Cleaners property, a soil vapor extraction treatment system will be used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil by extracting them in vapor form with a vacuum and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants. Additionally, at the Sun Cleaners property, a technology called air sparging will be used to reduce the contamination in the shallow ground water. Air sparging is the process of injecting air directly into the contaminated ground water. As the air bubbles rise, the contaminants are carried up into the soil and removed by a system that collects the vapors. This process will not pollute local air.

In the areas with the highest levels of ground water contamination, ground water will be pumped to a treatment plant where it will be cleaned using air stripping and activated carbon. Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed to ensure that the technology is fully effective. Additionally, the EPA will allow natural processes to reduce the level of contamination in some areas to meet ground water standards. The EPA will require periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the levels and extent of the contaminants are declining.

The program to sample indoor air quality at nearby residential and commercial properties will continue and, if elevated levels are found, vapor mitigation systems will be installed to address the problem.

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. The proposed cleanup of the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site is expected to cost $18.9 million. The EPA has identified Bank of America as a party potentially responsible for the site and the investigation and study of cleanup alternatives was paid for and performed by Bank of America.

To view the EPA’s final cleanup plan or Record of Decision for the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site, please visit:

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