Tuesday, October 4, 2016

EPA Finalizes $11 Million Cleanup Plan for the Standard Chlorine Chemical Site in the Meadowlands on the Hackensack River

Contact: Elias Rodriguez, (212-637-3664), rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y. – Oct. 4, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to clean up contamination at the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company, Inc. Superfund site in Kearny, N.J. The site is part of the N.J. Meadowlands and located on the banks of the Hackensack River. Past manufacturing operations by various companies led to extensive contamination of the site with a number of hazardous chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin. PCBs and dioxin can cause cancer, neurological damage, and other health impacts.

The 42-acre site was used for chemical manufacturing by various companies from the early 1900s to the 1990s. Operations at the site included the refinement of naphthalene for use in the production of certain industrial products, the processing of liquid petroleum naphthalene, the manufacturing of lead-acid batteries and drain-cleaner products and the packing of dichlorobenzene products. The soil, groundwater and two lagoons were contaminated with dioxin, benzene, naphthalene, PCBs and volatile organic compounds. The site was littered with tanks and drums containing hazardous substances including dioxin and asbestos. After sampling the site and requiring short-term pollution control measures, NJDEP requested that the EPA add the site to the federal Superfund list. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in September 2007.

Previous actions have been taken at the site by parties responsible for the pollution with oversight by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA to address the immediate risks to the public. Dioxin and asbestos have been collected and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste. Fifteen of the contaminated buildings on the site were demolished and removed. Two contaminated lagoons were emptied of water, filled with clean material and covered. A slurry wall was installed to contain contamination at the site and to keep contamination from moving into the Hackensack River. A system of pumps is being used to bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be cleaned. Fish consumption warnings have been issued for the Hackensack River.

The EPA’s final plan requires a cap that would extend over the remaining uncovered areas, as well as upgrades to existing covers, to prevent soil disturbance. Some areas of the site where soil is heavily contaminated have already been covered by a cap to prevent contaminants from spreading. Five dilapidated buildings remaining on the site will be demolished. Maintenance and operation of the previous work will continue, including expansion of the pump and treat system that was installed to clean up polluted groundwater. Land use controls such as a deed notice and other controls will prohibit the use of the groundwater and prohibit using the site for any residential purposes. The EPA will conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

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. 

To date, the cleanup of the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company, Inc. Superfund Site has been conducted and paid for by Apogent Transition Corp., Beazer East, Inc., Cooper Industries, LLC and Occidental Chemical Corporation with oversight by the EPA. Tierra Solutions, Inc. participated on behalf of Occidental Chemical Corporation. The EPA will enter into negotiations with a group of potentially responsible parties for implementation of the cleanup plan and performance of future work at the site.

The EPA held a public meeting in Kearny on August 16, 2016 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

To read the EPA’s cleanup plan, which is outlined in a Record of Decision, including the EPA’s response to public comments, please visit: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/393188

For more information on the Standard Chlorine Superfund site, go to: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/standard-chlorine