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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Removal of PCBs From Bound Brook in South Plainfield, NJ, $422 million dollar cleanup underway at site of defunct electronics facility

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

PCBs are chemicals that persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing. PCBs had been widely used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications until they were banned in 1979.

PCBs are potentially cancer-causing in people and build up in the fat of fish and mammals, increasing in concentration as they move up the food chain. The primary risk to humans is the accumulation of PCBs in the body from eating contaminated fish.

"This multi-million dollar cleanup will help restore the environment and protect public health in South Plainfield, NJ," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "This toxic legacy is on its way to being addressed."

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The estimated cost of the cleanup under this plan for the fourth phase is $242 million. To date, the EPA's cleanup costs for this site exceed $180 million. Over $43 million has been recovered from parties liable for the site thus far, and additional funds will be recovered under the terms of existing settlements.

The final plan includes dredging PCB-contaminated sediment, excavating soil from the flood plains, excavating an area next to the former Cornell-Dubilier facility where PCB-containing capacitors were buried, relocating a 36-inch waterline that crosses the former facility, and containing groundwater that discharges from the facility to Bound Brook.

The public water supply that serves South Plainfield is routinely tested to ensure it is safe and meets federal and state drinking water standards.

The EPA held a public meeting on October 21, 2014 at the South Plainfield Senior Center to explain the plan. The EPA accepted public comment for 76 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

The final cleanup plan requires dredging an estimated 134,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in Bound Brook located mainly between the Cornell Dubilier property and New Market Pond (including the pond). Dredged areas will then be restored. The plan also requires excavating an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated floodplain soil located downstream of the former facility property. Areas that are disturbed will be restored. As part of the excavation work, EPA will temporarily divert portions of Bound Brook around active work areas.

In addition, the final plan includes excavating an area next to the former Cornell-Dubilier facility where buried PCB-contaminated capacitors are located. All capacitor waste will be excavated and disposed of at a facility licensed to receive the waste. Finally, the plan addresses the area of the groundwater deferred from a previous phase of the cleanup. EPA is requiring a system to contain contaminated groundwater that discharges from the former Cornell-Dubilier facility and prevent it from releasing into the Bound Brook. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the Cornell-Dubilier site, the EPA divided the cleanup into four phases.

In the first phase, the EPA cleaned up nearby residential, commercial and municipal properties. PCB-contaminated soil was removed from 34 residential properties near the former facility property.

In the second phase, EPA addressed contaminated buildings and soil on the former facility. This was accomplished by demolishing 18 contaminated buildings and removing 26,400 tons of building debris. EPA excavated approximately 21,000 tons of contaminated debris and soil from an undeveloped area of the facility. Additionally, the contaminated soil at the site was treated using a technology that heats the material so that contaminants can be pulled out and captured. Soil that could not be cleaned using this method was taken out of the area for disposal at a permitted facility.

The third phase focuses on site-related contaminated groundwater. Currently EPA is monitoring the groundwater and intends to put in place restrictions that will prevent the use of untreated groundwater as drinking water. In addition, EPA has been performing periodic sampling to ensure that potentially harmful vapors from the contaminated groundwater are not seeping into nearby buildings. Since it was unclear how the groundwater was impacting Bound Brook in the vicinity of the former Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, Inc. facility, EPA deferred action on this area; it was subsequently included in this, the fourth and final phase of the project.

The fourth and final phase of the cleanup will address contamination in and near the Bound Brook, and is the subject of the plan that has been finalized.

To view the record of decision and the EPA response to public comments for the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/cornellFollow the EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.