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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Proposes Interim Plan to Clean Up Contamination at the Universal Oil Products Superfund Site in East Rutherford, N.J.

Contact Information: 
Tayler Covington (
(212) 637-3662

(New York, N.Y. – December 10, 2018) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an interim cleanup plan to address sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the waterways at the Universal Oil Products Superfund Site, which is located next to Berry’s Creek. The Universal Oil Products site and the Berry’s Creek Study Area are on EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites targeted for immediate, intense action. 

“The cleanup proposal for the Universal Oil Products is an important component of EPA’s aggressive strategy to accelerate Superfund cleanups in the New Jersey Meadowlands,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Once a remedy is selected and implemented, these actions will reduce fish and wildlife exposures to harmful contaminants and prevent PCBs and other contaminants from impacting surrounding marshes and Berry’s Creek.” 

Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill the Agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. 

EPA’s proposed interim action includes removing the top two feet of sediment totaling approximately 16,300 cubic yards. The excavated areas would then be backfilled with clean sand and gravel. The estimated cost of EPA’s preferred alternative is $18.2 million.
Other highlights of the EPA’s cleanup proposal include:

-    Dewatering, treatment, transportation, and off-site disposal of contaminated sediment.
-    Institutional controls, including New Jersey’s fish consumption advisories; and
-    Post-cleanup monitoring program that:
            •    Monitors the surrounding ecosystem’s response to the cleanup as well as the adjacent marshes, waterways east of Murray Hill Parkway, and Berry’s Creek, which are hydrologically connected to the Universal Oil Products site.
            •    Assesses whether volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the shallow groundwater are discharging to the waterways, and whether this potential discharge could compromise the interim sediment cleanup. 

 EPA will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on January 9, 2019 at Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library, 320 Boulevard Hasbrouck Heights, NJ to explain the cleanup proposal and other options that were considered and to take public comments. Public comments will be accepted until January 23, 2019. 

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
Eugenia Naranjo, Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007
(212) 637-3467

EPA’s cleanup proposal can be viewed at

The Universal Oil Products Superfund site is located near the intersection of Route 17 and Paterson Plank Road in East Rutherford and consists of approximately 74 acres of marshes, tidal waterways, highways, and commercial properties. As a result of previous operations by several companies at the site, the groundwater, soil and sediment became contaminated with lead, PCBs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and VOCs. 

Berry’s Creek is a tributary to the Hackensack River traveling through Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, Rutherford, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge, and includes approximately six miles of waterway, tributaries to the creek, and approximately 750 acres of marshes. The major contaminants in the Berry’s Creek Study Area are mercury, methyl mercury, PCBs, and chromium, which are at high levels in the water and sediment. The Berry’s Creek Study Area is a part of the Ventron/Velsicol Superfund Site. EPA selected an interim cleanup plan for portions of Berry’s Creek in September 2018.

Administrator’s Emphasis List
EPA established the Administrator’s Emphasis List in December 2017 in response to recommendations from EPA’s Superfund Task Force. The list is comprised of sites identified by Acting Administrator Wheeler and EPA regional offices that will benefit from the Administrator’s immediate attention or action. The list is updated quarterly with sites moving on and off the list as needed. 

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18-100Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment.