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EPA Proposes Three More New Jersey Sites for the Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 04/30/2003
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(#03048) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed today to add three new contaminated sites in New Jersey to its National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites. The proposed sites are Rolling Knolls Landfill site in Green Village, Chatham, the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company Inc. site in Kearny, and the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Area Ground Water Contamination site in Wall Township.

“Proposing a site to the National Priorities List allows EPA to do a more thorough site investigation to determine if it merits a Superfund cleanup,” ; said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “We encourage people to provide us with any comments or information that could be relevant to our decision-making.”

A description of the three sites in New Jersey proposed for the NPL follows:

The Rolling Knolls Landfill site is a 200-acre, unlined, former municipal landfill bounded on three sides by the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge as well as by the Loantaka Brook and private properties. On its eastern and southern sides, it overlaps the Refuge, which is also a registered wilderness area, and a habitat known to be used by endangered and threatened species.

The landfill was operated from the 1930s through 1968, receiving municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, and industrial waste. In compliance with health code regulations adopted in the 1950s, pesticides and herbicides were regularly applied to control weeds, insects and rodents, and oil was sprayed on the roads to control dust. Additionally, Chatham Township records indicate that semi-liquid swamp muck was used to cover the landfill daily.

Samples of soil and sediment show various contaminants in portions of the landfill and the bordering wildlife refuge, including mercury, metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The Standard Chlorine site is located in an industrial area along the tidal-influenced Hackensack River, which is a tributary to the New York/New Jersey Harbor, which is covered under the Harbor Estuary Program. Through most of the 20th century, the 25-acre facility manufactured and processed chemicals. Soils from various parts of the site and two lagoons are contaminated, as are numerous tanks and drums containing various hazardous substances.

Hazardous substances such as naphthalene, multiple benzene compounds, PCBs and dioxin are in surface water runoff and ground water that flow into the Hackensack River and adjacent wetlands. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has issued a health advisory on consumption of fish from the Hackensack River due to PCB and dioxin contamination, which originated in part from the Standard Chlorine site.

The White Swan/Sun Cleaners site consists of soil and ground water contaminated with elevated levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE).

In February 2001, the Summit Bank (now Fleet Bank), a responsible party (RP), identified by New Jersey, for the White Swan Cleaners site, entered into an agreement with NJDEP to do a site inspection and cleanup investigation. During this investigation, the RP removed two septic systems with multiple tanks, and sampled the soil in the seepage pit, liquid in the tanks, and ground water. The samples indicated high levels of PCE contamination and property assessments indicated that ground water contamination might be adversely affecting nearby business and residential indoor air quality. In response to subsequent discovery of vapors in the basements of several of the properties, NJDEP provided temporary venting systems to remove the vapors.

In December 2001, the site was referred to EPA and the Agency began collecting additional indoor air, soil and ground water samples. Permanent ventilation systems were installed where appropriate, and currently 24 homes and three commercial establishments have received ventilation systems from the EPA to bring indoor air to protective health-based levels. Past testing of monitoring wells and area irrigation wells showed elevated levels of PCE contamination, and one down-gradient municipal well also had higher-than- normal levels. A treatment system has been installed at that well to ensure safe drinking water.

Based on the current conditions, EPA is proposing these sites to the NPL. Currently the total number of federal Superfund sites in New Jersey is 113. 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.

EPA will accept public comments for sixty days on these proposals for addition to the NPL, which was published in the Federal Register today. Members of the public who are interested in obtaining copies of the notice, an updated NPL list or site descriptions, or who wish to comment on the proposed listings, should contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or TDD 1-800-553-7672.