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EPA to Supervise the Removal of Approximately 6,500 Tons of Contaminated Soil from Former Vermiculite Plant

Release Date: 08/28/2006
Contact Information: Ben Barry (212) 637-3651,

(New York, NY) Approximately 6,500 tons of asbestos contaminated soil will be removed by companies responsible for an area adjacent to the former W.R. Grace vermiculite processing facility in Hamilton, New Jersey. The contaminated soil will be sent to an authorized disposal facility in Pennsylvania. The work will be supervised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“Thousands of tons of contaminated soil have already been removed and we have sampled the surrounding area to ensure that local residents were not being affected,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “This phase of the cleanup will address a large area and continue to protect residents from any lingering contamination.”

Starting August 28, 2006, contractors will be moving in equipment, clearing the site of debris and vegetation, constructing temporary roads, and placing security fencing around the excavation area. The soil excavation is expected to begin at the site in early September. The work should take approximately three months to complete.

For more than 40 years, W.R. Grace processed vermiculite ore from Montana at the Hamilton plant site. Ores from that mine contained varying amounts of asbestos. It was then sold commercially for fireproofing, insulation and garden products. Vermiculite from the Libby mine was contaminated with naturally occurring amphibole asbestos including tremolite, a potent spear-like form of asbestos. Asbestos, if inhaled, can cause lung disease, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer associated with asbestos.

EPA completed the first phase of cleanup at the former W.R. Grace plant in April 2004. Approximately 9,200 tons of soil contaminated with asbestos were removed and shipped to a facility in Pennsylvania. EPA conducted extensive sampling of residential properties surrounding the site and found no asbestos above the level that sophisticated lab instruments can reliably measure.

For more information about the W.R. Grace / Zonolite site: