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Camden Redevelopment on Track with EPA Assistance
Release Date: 02/04/2004
|(#04017) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny joined state and city officials today in Camden, New Jersey to mark the completion of the first phase of redevelopment along Arlington Street, adjacent to the General Gas Mantle federal superfund site.
"Working together, EPA, state and local agencies can really make a difference," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Just a few short weeks ago, this street was a long block of dilapidated houses; as demolition comes to a close, and as EPA starts the cleanup and removal process, we can begin to imagine what kind of community resource it might become."
"Today's event represents Governor McGreevey's commitment to South Jersey," said Susan Bass Levin , Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. "I am pleased that the Department of Community Affairs, working with the local community, was able to step in to demolish these unsafe homes and relocate residents to safe housing."
"With the help of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for the demolition, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the cleanup, the significance of Arlington Street for the economic revitalization of our city becomes clear: Camden's landscape is changing," said Camden's Mayor Gwendolyn Faison. Chief Operating Officer Randy Primas noted, "the City of Camden is not alone in affecting change, as proof here today where Federal, State and City officials stand together to get the job done."
Arlington Street is bound on the south by Chelton Street and the north by Jefferson Street. When the last of the debris has been removed from the 54 homes demolished by the city, EPA will remove the foundations, and excavate and dispose of thorium-contaminated soil from hotspots on the eastern side of the Arlington Street site. The Agency will mobilize to the site as soon as the demolition is finished.
Contamination at the site is similar to that found in other areas of Camden and Gloucester City. The thorium-laced soil contains debris from operations at both Welsbach and General Gas Mantle, former gas mantle manufacturing companies. The companies produced gas mantles from the late 1890s until 1941, using thorium, a radionuclide that emits gamma radiation during radioactive decay, in their manufacturing process.
In 1996, the Welsbach and General Gas Mantle (GGM) Superfund site was added to the National Priority List of the country's most hazardous waste sites. Since that time, the Agency completed an investigation of the site and issued a record of decision laying out cleanup plans for all affected residential and industrial properties. Overall site plans include excavation and off-site disposal of radiologically-contaminated soil and waste materials at approximately 60 properties, as well as investigation of more than 600 properties to ensure no contamination is missed.
EPA finished demolition of the GGM building in February 2001, and began cleanup of residential properties and a private swim club in Gloucester City in 2002. Since that time, approximately 45,000 tons of radiological waste and soil has been removed and replaced.
To protect workers and local residents, in the early 1990s, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection relocated Ste-Lar Textiles from the GGM building and installed radiation shielding in the sidewalks and the industrial building located to the south of the former GGM site.