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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Finalizes $18 Million Plan to Address PCB Contamination at the Unimatic Superfund Site in Fairfield, N.J.

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y. – Sept. 21, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan that requires demolishing a building and removing contaminated soil from the Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation Superfund site at 25 Sherwood Lane in Fairfield, N.J. Before ending its operations at the site, Unimatic used the site to run a metals molding facility and operated machines using lubricating oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The company’s operations contaminated the soil, groundwater and a building on the property with PCBs.

“EPA’s cleanup will address the PCBs at this site in order to protect the health of people who live in Fairfield,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “PCBs were widely used in industrial and commercial applications until they were banned in 1979. They persist in the environment and can damage the human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.”

The EPA held a public meeting in Fairfield, N.J. on August 10, 2016 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA accepted public comment for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

Unimatic operated a metals molding facility at the site from 1955 until 2001. The company allegedly discharged wastewater containing PCBs through floor trenches into leaky wastewater discharge pipes. The leaky pipes allowed the PCB-wastewater to seep into the ground, contaminating soil and groundwater throughout the property and leading to soil contamination on the adjacent properties. Operations inside the building also contaminated the interior of the building.

In 2001 Unimatic stopped operations at the site. Since 2002, the facility has been used by Frameware, Inc., a metal frame parts manufacturer and distributor. In 2012, Frameware, Inc. moved its operations and relocated its workers. The nearest public drinking water wells are located less than one-half mile from the site and are regularly tested to ensure that they meet all federal and state drinking water standards.

Under the EPA’s final cleanup plan, the building located at 25 Sherwood Lane will be demolished. The structure needs to be taken down so that contaminated sections of the building and contaminated soil underneath can be removed. The EPA will work with local officials to determine the best time to do the demolition and notify the public before demolition begins. Strict procedures will be followed to control dust during the demolition.

The EPA plan also requires removing and disposing of contaminated soil from portions of the site and backfilling those areas with clean soil. The soil will be dug up and properly disposed of at facilities licensed to handle the waste. In total, approximately 26,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed from the site. During the cleanup, the EPA will monitor the air to protect the public from any hazardous particles in the air resulting from the demolition, and will sample the soil to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup. The cleanup is estimated to cost $18 million. In the next phase of the cleanup, the EPA will address the groundwater, which is contaminated with PCBs.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA has determined that the Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation is potentially responsible for the contamination at this site.    

To view the record of decision, please visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/unimatic

For a direct link to the Record of Decision, visit:  https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/447167