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EPA Completes Cleanup of Mercury Contamination at Hoboken Property

Release Date: 04/25/2006
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(New York, NY) A contaminated property on Grand Street in Hoboken, New Jersey has been cleaned up, clearing the way for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to proceed with the final steps to remove the site from the Superfund National Priorities List, a list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites. EPA has also reached a proposed settlement with the General Electric Company (GE) to pay an additional $3 million to cover costs the Agency incurred during the cleanup. The property was placed on the Superfund list after mercury vapor was detected inside residencies at levels far exceeding health based criteria. EPA found mercury between floor layers and absorbed into wood, brick, and other porous surfaces.

“The building was in poor shape when we began our work and many people’s lives were at risk,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “It has now been demolished, contaminated waste has been removed, and we have returned the site to a state on which homes can be built without fear of further mercury contamination.”

The Grand Street Mercury site consisted of a former industrial building that was converted into residential/studio spaces, a townhouse, an asphalt-covered parking lot, and several adjacent residential properties. EPA began its response at the site after samples collected by the local health department showed that 20 residents, five of whom were children, had elevated levels of mercury in their urine. Mercury, believed to be associated with prior manufacturing operations of mercury vapor lamps and mercury connector switches, was found throughout the site. When the contamination was discovered, EPA worked closely with local health officials to relocate residents living in the apartments. The Agency also secured the buildings and conducted an investigation to determine how best to clean up the site. Contamination was so significant that EPA ordered GE to demolish the buildings and remove the soil from the former industrial property and adjacent residential properties.

The Department of Justice, EPA, and State of New Jersey have also proposed a settlement with GE, requiring the company to pay $3,000,000, which will be shared by the United States and New Jersey in proportion to each government’s past response costs that have not been reimbursed. The settlement with GE, proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice, EPA, and the State of New Jersey, will be open for public comment for 30 days. A notice announcing the dates of the public comment period will be published in the Federal Register.

Additional information on the Grand Street Mercury site: