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EPA Adds Woodbrook Road Dump Site in New Jersey to the Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 04/30/2003
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(#03047) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today it has added the Woodbrook Road Dump site in South Plainfield, located in the Dismal Swamp wetlands, to the National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites.

“Dismal Swamp is a natural wildlife refuge and has been designated a priority wetland,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “We hope to see it returned to a state in which dismal is its name only and not a description of its condition. EPA has already overseen the removal of some material causing contamination at this site, and we can now begin comprehensive evaluations of the remaining contamination.”

The Woodbrook Road Dump site is a old 34-acre dumping ground spanning two undeveloped properties north of Woodbrook Road. Previous owners illegally operated the properties as dumps, accepting household and industrial wastes until the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) shut the dump down in 1958.

After a local environmentalist alerted state and federal agencies to the presence of leaking electrical capacitors in the Dismal Swamp, NJDEP conducted an inspection of the dump area and referred it to EPA for a possible Superfund cleanup in September 1999. EPA’s investigation of the site in October 1999 confirmed that the leaking capacitors contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and also found significant chemical and heavy metal contamination in soils near the leaking capacitors.

Under EPA supervision, the current owners, Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corporation, removed most of the known capacitors found at the site. An EPA assessment of the site confirmed that soil at the site is contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals, and that surface water and sediment contain PCBs. Because the area is frequented by hikers, hunters and recreational vehicle users, EPA and the property owners have installed fencing, warning signs and guard rails on pathways to prevent public access.

EPA designated Dismal Swamp as “priority wetlands,” placing an emphasis on the need to rehabilitate this important and highly vulnerable area. Approximately 3,000 acres of wetlands are located within four miles of the former dump site, and about 62,000 people drink the ground water, which contamination at the site could affect if no action is taken. Downstream surface water converges into the Bound Brook and the Raritan River, both of which are fisheries.

The Agency periodically proposes sites to the NPL and designates proposed sites as final. Sites that are designated as final are eligible for funds to plan and conduct long-term cleanups. Proposed sites are investigated further to determine the extent of the risks they may pose to human health and the environment. The addition of this site to the NPL brings the total number of federal Superfund sites in New Jersey to 113.

The notice of the final listing on the NPL of the Woodbrook Road Dump site was published in the Federal Register today. For members of the public interested in obtaining copies of the notice or a detailed site description, please contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810.