New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to add the Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation site in Fairfield, New Jersey to its Superfund list of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Unimatic formerly used the site to run a metals molding facility and operated machines using lubricating oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The company’s operations caused the soil, ground water and a building on the property to be contaminated with PCBs. Based on the PCB levels inside the building, state and federal health officials recommended that employees of a company operating on the site be relocated to protect their health.
PCBs were widely used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications until they were banned in 1979. They are human-made chemicals that persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.
“The EPA has been working with New Jersey to gather information about contamination at this site and reduce people’s potential exposure to contaminants,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By adding the site to the Superfund list, the EPA can proceed with the extensive sampling and investigations needed to determine the best ways to clean up the contamination in the long-term.”
Unimatic operated a metals works and metals molding facility at the site from 1955 until 2001. The company allegedly washed out PCB-laden lubricant through floor trenches to the facility wastewater pipes, which subsequently discharged into a tributary of Deepavaal Brook. The pipes allowed the wastewater to leak into the ground at the site, contaminating soil and ground water throughout the property. Operations inside the building lead to contamination of the interior building structure.
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 NJDEP, the EPA took samples both 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 in July 2013 and removed approximately 20 workers from the contaminated work environment.
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. The water meets federal and state drinking water standards.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued numerous violation notices to Unimatic, which have resulted in the company removing some contaminated soil. High PCB concentrations, however, remain in soil and ground water as well as inside the building. The property was sold in 2002 after Unimatic ceased operations at the site.
The EPA has determined that proposing this site to the Superfund list is the best course of action to protect human health and clean up the contamination. The EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups. The EPA received a letter from New Jersey supporting the inclusion of this site on the Superfund list. Today’s addition of this site, along with the Troy Chemical Corporation site in Newark, NJ, brings the total of proposed and final sites on the federal Superfund list in New Jersey to 116.
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 legally responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The EPA is in the process of identifying those responsible for the cleanup of the Unimatic site.
To see the Federal Register notice and supporting documents for this site, as well as other proposed and final sites, on the day of publication, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm.
The EPA will take public comments in the proposal of this site to the Superfund List for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, which is expected in the next few days. For instructions to submit comments, go to: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/pubcom.htm.
For more information on the Superfund listing process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm or contact Ildefonso Acosta, Region 2 NPL Coordinator, at 212-637-4344, firstname.lastname@example.org.