NPL Site Narrative for Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation
UNIMATIC MANUFACTURING CORPORATION
Fairfield, New Jersey
The Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation facility is a former aluminum die-casting facility located at 25 Sherwood Lane in Fairfield, Essex County, New Jersey. The 1.23-acre subject property is immediately surrounded by industrial properties, including the Caldwell Trucking Superfund site to the southeast, and the industrial area is in turn surrounded by commercial areas and residential neighborhoods.
Unimatic operated at the facility from 1955 until 2001, primarily as an aluminum die-casting facility. At its peak in the 1970s, the company operated eight die-casting machines 24 hours per day using lubricating oil which contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Beginning with the last facility expansion in 1970, large volumes of lubricating oil were sprayed throughout the shop area, to the point where it covered the walls and floor. Unimatic washed out the PCB-laden lubricant through floor trenches to the facility wastewater pipes, which subsequently discharged to a tributary of Deepavaal Brook. The facility discharged 16,000 to 44,000 gallons per day of contaminated water through the wastewater pipes. Poor construction of the pipes allowed the wastewater to leak into the ground at the site, leading to soil and ground water contamination throughout the subject property and beyond the property boundaries.
Until 1979, wastewater containing PCBs leaked through the pipes, which led to high levels of PCB contamination in soil and ground water throughout the subject property and beyond the property boundaries. The building itself is also infused with PCBs. The well water that was used at the site until 1989 contained high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are believed to have migrated from the Caldwell Trucking Superfund site. Wastewater discharged from the Unimatic facility into the tributary stream was shown to contain high levels of VOCs in the 1980s. The effluent also contained petroleum hydrocarbons and oil, and is believed to have contained PCBs. Soil at the discharge point is contaminated with PCBs, but the extent of contamination along the surface water migration route has not been investigated and is unknown.
Potential Impacts on Surrounding Community/Environment:
The former Unimatic building is severely contaminated with PCBs, which have entered indoor air. The Unimatic operation resulted in contaminated soil, ground water and surface water due to decades of wastewater discharge through leaky pipes. The nearest wells currently used for drinking water are located less than one-half mile downgradient of the site, and ground water wells within 4 miles of the site provide drinking water to more than 20,000 people. The well water that was used at the site until 1989 contained high levels of VOCs, and the effluent to the unnamed tributary to Deepavaal Brook was shown to contain petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and high levels of VOCs in the 1980s. Deepavaal Brook flows into the Passaic River and there is a drinking water intake that serves more than 450,000 people located 2.2 miles downstream of Deepavaal Brook.
Response Activities (to date):
Under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit No. NJ0031003, the EPA and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued numerous non-compliance and violation notices beginning in 1982 to curtail the discharge of VOC-contaminated water, however, Unimatic continued to discharge 16,000 to 44,000 gallons per day to state waters until the facility connected to municipal water in 1989. Numerous investigations under NJDEP and oversight by the EPA since 2001 have shown that the building, soils and ground water on site are severely contaminated with PCBs. Unimatic has excavated some contaminated soils, but high PCB concentrations remain in soil and ground water at and beyond the subject property. The EPA has initiated and continues to perform interim protective measures inside the building, which ultimately must be vacated and sealed.
Need for NPL Listing:
Other federal and state cleanup programs were evaluated, but are not viable at this time. The EPA received a letter of support for placing this site on the NPL from the state of New Jersey.
[The description of the site (release) is based on information available at the time the site was evaluated with the HRS. The description may change as additional information is gathered on the sources and extent of contamination. See 56 FR 5600, February 11, 1991, or subsequent FR notices.]
For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs. ATSDR ToxFAQs can be found on the Internet at ATSDR - ToxFAQs (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp) or by telephone at 1-888-42-ATSDR or 1-888-422-8737.