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News Releases from Region 02

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen and EPA Tour Superfund Sites in Morris, Essex and Sussex Counties

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

(New York, N.Y. - Sept. 19, 2016) Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Regional Administrator Catherine McCabe and Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen today toured several Superfund sites in Morris, Essex, and Sussex Counties in N.J. They were joined by state and local officials to highlight the effectiveness of the federal Superfund law in protecting the health of people who live and work near contaminated sites.

“New Jersey has the most Superfund cleanup sites in the nation,” said EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Catherine McCabe. “Here more than anywhere, we can see how a strong national Superfund program is vital to protecting the health of people who live and work in every corner of the state.”

Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. 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 holds those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. Cleanups are funded by taxpayer dollars only when those responsible for the pollution cannot be found or are not financially viable.

The Superfund Sites on today’s itinerary were:

The Mansfield Trail Dump Superfund Site, located in Byram Township, is in a wooded area near the intersection of the Mansfield bike path and Stanhope-Sparta Road. Sludge was dumped in trenches in the area and has contaminated the groundwater with volatile organic compounds. The groundwater is used by some nearby residents as drinking water. Vapors from the contaminated groundwater underneath area homes have seeped into some basements. The site was first addressed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, with the EPA taking over when the site was added to the Superfund list in 2011. NJDEP installed carbon water filtration and treatment systems in 18 homes to remove contaminants from the drinking water, and installed systems to reduce the intrusion of chemical vapors into the basements of several of the homes that tested positive for air pollutants. In 2012, the EPA removed 11,700 tons of contaminated material from the dump areas. Studies to determine the feasibility of an alternative water supply and to more fully determine the nature and extent of the groundwater contamination are underway.  These studies are expected to be completed in 2017 and 2018.

The Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund Site in Rockaway Township was used for testing and developing rocket motors and propellants. Groundwater at the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Due to its complexity, the EPA's cleanup of the Radiation Technology site has been conducted in phases. Alliant Techsystems, a successor to a past owner and operator, is cleaning up the groundwater and soil under EPA oversight. The company installed systems to monitor groundwater and nearby drinking water wells. The EPA removed 75 rusting and leaking drums and containers from a building at the site in March 2013. The EPA chose a plan to remove and properly dispose of badly deteriorated drums buried at the site. That work was completed in July 2014. The EPA finalized a plan in September 2014 to demolish, remove, or use other cleanup measures to address buildings and structures that are contaminated with PCBs, asbestos, and lead.  Asbestos was removed by EPA from buildings and structures in January through March 2015.  Lead-based paint, remaining asbestos and PCBs will be addressed by EPA when funding is available.

The Rockaway Township Wells Superfund site, located in Rockaway Township, is a two-square-mile wellfield containing a cluster of three municipal wells within 100 feet of each other that are contaminated with various volatile organic chemicals from industrial buildings in the area. A NJDEP cleanup plan called for the treatment of the contaminated groundwater and the replacement of the township’s existing air stripper, which forces air through polluted groundwater to remove harmful chemicals. The air causes the chemicals to change from a liquid to a gas, which is then collected and cleaned.  Sampling of several buildings has shown that chemical vapors have gotten into some buildings on the site. To address these problems, a system was installed in two buildings to prevent soil vapors from entering them. Groundwater from the area of drinking water supply wells is treated to remove the contamination and provide the community a safe source of drinking water.   

The Rockaway Borough Wellfield Superfund Site includes three municipal water supply wells that provide drinking water to 11,000 people. In 1985, the NJDEP investigated the site and concluded that contamination found in the municipal water supply was coming from multiple source areas within the borough. The EPA investigated the contamination and determined that soil and groundwater were contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which are industrial solvents. EPA and responsible parties are addressing groundwater and soil contamination at different locations at the Site.  A Potentially Responsible Party-lead groundwater extraction system has been in operation since 2006 for the Klockner and Klockner area of the Site.  In November 2011, EPA began operating a groundwater treatment system to address PCE-contaminated groundwater in the East Main Street/Wall Street area of the site. In addition, work to remove and treat soil contaminated with lead at the Rockaway Borough site was completed in 2013.  Currently, two soil vapor extraction treatment systems are used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil, and two systems of pumps are used to bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be cleaned.

The Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation Superfund Site in Fairfield was a metals molding facility, which operated machines using lubricating oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The company’s operations contaminated soil, groundwater and a building with PCBs. The nearest public drinking water wells are located less than one-half mile from the site. The water supply is monitored regularly to ensure the water quality meets drinking water standards. Since 2002, the facility has been used by Frameware, Inc., a metal frame parts manufacturer and distributor. In May 2012, at the request of the NJDEP, the EPA took samples inside and outside the building on the site. Based on the results of EPA’s sampling, Frameware, Inc. moved its operations and removed approximately 20 workers from the contaminated work environment. During summer 2015, the EPA took extensive soil samples at the site to more fully determine the nature and extent of the contamination. In July 2016, EPA issued its proposed cleanup plan for the site. Under EPA’s proposed plan, the building located at 25 Sherwood Lane would be demolished. The structure would be taken down so that contaminated sections of the building and contaminated soil underneath could be removed. The EPA plan also would require removing and disposing of contaminated soil from portions of the site and backfilling those areas with clean soil. The contaminated soil would be dug up and properly disposed of at facilities licensed to handle the waste. In total, approximately 26,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil would be removed from the site. During the cleanup, the EPA would monitor the air to protect the public from any hazardous particles in the air resulting from the demolition, and would sample the soil to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup. The cost of the recommended cleanup alternative is estimated to be $18 million.

The Caldwell Trucking Co. Superfund Site is a former sewage hauling site occupying 11 acres in Fairfield. The site includes land and groundwater contaminated by the disposal of residential, commercial and industrial septic waste. Caldwell Trucking disposed of this waste in unlined lagoons from the early 1950s until 1973. After 1973, Caldwell installed underground storage tanks for the storage of the waste. Other industrial facilities in the area may also have contributed to the groundwater contamination. Parties responsible for the cleanup have removed the contaminated soil and sludge from the lagoons and installed wells to monitor groundwater quality. All contaminated soil has also been removed or no longer poses a risk and impacted wetlands have been restored. Since 1981, more than 300 private wells in the area have been taken out of service due to contamination. The affected residences have been connected to the municipal drinking water supply system. A groundwater extraction and treatment system, which pumps the groundwater to the surface where it is treated, began operation in 2008. As of the 2015 groundwater report, the treatment system has treated approximately 35 million gallons of contaminated groundwater since operations began.

For more information about Superfund sites in New Jersey and across the country, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund

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