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EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Toxic Site in Newfield, New Jersey; $5.3 Million to be spent to Address Groundwater Contamination
Release Date: 09/29/2014
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, firstname.lastname@example.org
(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to address soil, sediment and surface water that is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and heavy metals by past industrial operations at the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site in Newfield and Vineland, New Jersey. The EPA is requiring a combination of cleanup measures at portions of the site including capping of the soil, excavating and removing contaminated sediment and prohibiting future residential use of the facility.
Exposure to hexavalent chromium and heavy metals can have serious health impacts, including nervous system damage and, for some heavy metals, cancer.
Wells in the area are not used for drinking water, and residents have been connected to a municipal water supply that provides a safe source of drinking water.
The EPA held a public meeting in Newfield on July 9, 2014 to explain its plan. The EPA took public comment for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.
The site includes a 67-acre area where the Shieldalloy facility was located, a 20-acre parcel where no site activities took place but which is used solely for the implementation of the groundwater remedy, and the Hudson Branch of the Maurice River. The company processed ores and minerals to produce metals and alloys at the site from 1955 to 2006. The company discharged industrial wastewater directly to unlined lagoons and to surface water. Contaminated areas of the facility itself, including a by-products area, nine waste water lagoons, and storage tanks have been addressed by previous work. Processing operations have stopped, but the site is utilized today as office space and for warehousing. The site was added to the EPA’s Superfund list in 1984.
Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the investigations and cleanup of the site has been conducted in stages by the EPA, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the parties responsible for the site.
Work overseen by the NJDEP in the 1970’s addressed immediate risks to the surrounding community. Beginning in 1979, parties responsible for the site began operating a system to pump and treat the contaminated ground water. In 1986, the state of New Jersey restricted the use of wells in the area and required mandatory connection with the public water system to protect people’s health. At NJDEP’s direction, the company excavated the lagoons, removed 40 buried drums and the storage tanks, and capped several industrial areas of the site. In 1996, the ground water treatment system was enhanced to remove metals. Additionally, an air stripper was added, which forces air through polluted ground water to remove harmful chemicals.
Slag and waste generated by the facility also contaminated areas of the site with uranium and thorium. The slag piles and radioactive waste at the site are not part of the federal Superfund site and are being addressed by NJDEP and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In 2006, Shieldalloy submitted a proposal to NRC to decommission the slag pile by capping the radioactive material at the site. The decommissioning proposal is pending.
The site is also contaminated with perchlorate. Perchlorate was used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives. Under a legal agreement between EPA and the parties responsible for the site, perchlorate contamination will be addressed in a separate phase of the cleanup. A study of the nature and extent of the perchlorate is ongoing.
In 2010, the EPA assumed oversight responsibility for the site from the NJDEP. The EPA conducted an in-depth investigation of the extent of the contamination in surface water, sediment and soils in order to determine how best to clean it up over the long term. The EPA’s final plan addresses portions of the Shieldalloy site that are distinct from the radioactive contamination and the perchlorate contamination.
EPA conducted both human health and ecological risk assessments to evaluate exposures to the Hudson Branch and Burnt Mill Pond. Based on analysis by EPA, there is no indication of chemicals in the sediment or surface water of Burnt Mill Pond at levels that would be of concern to people, fish and wildlife in the pond. The human health risk assessment that evaluated exposure to the Hudson Branch did not identify any chemicals at levels of concern in either the sediment or surface water. Chromium, copper, lead, nickel and vanadium were detected at concentrations of concern to fish and wildlife in the sediment of Hudson Branch near the facility, with the concentrations of these chemicals decreasing significantly as the branch flows away from the facility in the direction of Burnt Mill pond.
The EPA is requiring a one to two foot cap over soil in a 1.3 acre area of the facility to reduce potential exposure to soil contaminated with vanadium. Future construction on the site will be restricted to commercial use. The cleanup includes removing of 9,800 cubic yards of sediment that is contaminated with metals from the Hudson Branch. Additional sampling and study of the contamination in the Hudson Branch will be conducted. Water will be removed from the sediment and it will be taken to a facility licensed to receive the waste. The stream will be restored after the excavation. Surface water will be monitored until water quality standards are met. Other protective measures such as fencing will be maintained. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The cleanup of the Shieldalloy site is expected to be conducted and paid for by the responsible parties with oversight by the EPA. The cleanup of the Shieldalloy site under the EPA’s plan is expected to cost $5.3 million.
To view the EPA’s record of decision for the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/shieldalloy