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EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan For Grand Street Mercury Superfund Site in Hoboken and Permanent Relocation Of Residents

Release Date: 07/09/1997
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(#97097) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed plan today for permanently relocating the former residents of the Grand Street Mercury Superfund site, located at 720 and 722-732 Grand Street in Hoboken, New Jersey.

In addition to permanent relocation of the residents, EPA's preferred plan calls for the safe demolition of the buildings and the removal of the debris for treatment and/or disposal off-site. The plan also involves the excavation and off-site disposal of soils on the property contaminated with unsafe levels of mercury, and monitoring to determine if mercury contamination of groundwater has occurred. EPA estimates the total costs of these actions will be roughly $14 million.

The agency will accept comments on its plan during a public comment period that begins on July 8 and ends on August 6, 1997. EPA has scheduled a public meeting to discuss its plan on July 16, 1997 at 7:00 p.m. at the Hoboken High School. At the meeting, the other options EPA evaluated, ranging from no action to remediation of the building and property for residential reoccupation or industrial/commercial use, will also be discussed in detail.

Both the General Electric Company (GE) and the Cooper-Hewitt Electric Company manufactured mercury vapor lamps in the building at 722 Grand Street from about 1910 to 1919 and again from 1948 to 1965. The building was purchased by a group of working artists in August 1993 and then converted to condominium living/working spaces. In January 1997, the Hoboken Health Department took the unusual action of ordering the 15 families living in the building to vacate their condominiums after the New Jersey Department of Health received results of laboratory analyses that revealed elevated levels of mercury in urine samples collected from the residents. On January 22, 1996, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a Public Health Advisory based on the mercury in urine concentrations and the elevated mercury vapor concentrations inside the building.

Long-term human exposure to mercury can cause severe damage to the central nervous system. The federal Superfund program has been providing temporary relocation benefits, including housing, for the families while EPA investigated the extent of the mercury contamination in the building and the property. The results of the investigation revealed mercury contamination throughout the building and mercury contamination in the soils located at and adjacent to the site.

In December 1996, EPA proposed that the site be placed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in a special proposed rule update. If the building is put on the final NPL in the coming months and the proposed plan being released today is formally selected as the long-term remedy for the site, the permanent relocation (including acquisition of their property) and site remediation activities can begin.

Under a Superfund Unilateral Administrative Order, issued on February 24, 1997, which was later amended, two responsible parties, GE and another former owner of the building, John Pascale, Sr., have been ordered to provide site security and building maintenance, and to conduct several other remediation activities.

EPA will select the appropriate remedy for the site after thorough consideration of all written and oral comments, and after consultation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Citizens have access to the proposed plan and other pertinent documents related to the site at the following information repositories:

Hoboken Public Library

500 Park Avenue,

Hoboken, New Jersey

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Records Center,

290 Broadway 18th floor

New York, New York

(By appointment: (212) 637-3043

Written comments should be addressed to: John Hansen, Remedial Project Manager, USEPA-Region II, Emergency and Remedial Response Division, 290 Broadway, 19th floor, New York, N.Y. 10007-1866.

For more information contact:
Rich Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: