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EPA Proposes Plan to Remove Contaminated Buildings at Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund Site in Rockaway Township, New Jersey; Encourages the Public to Comment

Release Date: 03/20/2014
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to demolish and remove buildings and smaller structures at the Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund site in Rockaway Township, New Jersey, which were contaminated during the testing and development of rocket motors and propellants. Buildings and structures on the 263-acre site contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and lead among other contaminants and the ground water and soil are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.

      PCBs persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of health problems in adults. Exposure to volatile organic compounds and heavy metals can also cause serious health problems.

      “The EPA proposed plan to demolish and remove the contaminated buildings from the Radiation Technology site is the next step in protecting the health of people who live in this community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA encourages the public to attend the public meeting and share their views on the proposed plan.”

      The EPA will hold a public meeting on April 3, 2014 to explain the proposed plan and is encouraging public comments. The meeting will be held at the Rockaway Township municipal building, courtroom, 65 Mount Hope Road, Rockaway, NJ at 7:30 p.m. Comments will be accepted from March 24 until April 23.

      The Radiation Technology site was added to the Superfund list of hazardous waste sites in 1984. The initial work at the site was conducted by Radiation Technology, Inc. with oversight by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

      In the 1980’s, Radiation Technology, Inc. installed wells to measure and monitor ground water contamination from the site. Nearby residential drinking water wells were also sampled and results found that drinking water was not affected. Between 1992 and 1997, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection entered into several legal agreements with Radiation Technology to investigate the extent and nature of the contamination, remove some tanks and drums and investigate ground water contamination at the site. Much of the investigative work was completed and some drums and tanks were removed, but the company lacked funds to conduct the ground water cleanup.

      In 2001, the EPA was asked by the state of New Jersey to take over the cleanup of the site. In 2004, an agreement was finalized with Alliant Techsystems, a successor to a past site owner and operator, to conduct investigative and cleanup work at the site.

      In September 2011, the EPA finalized its plan for Alliant Techsystems to remove remaining deteriorated drums and debris from the site and dispose of them at facilities away from the area licensed to receive the waste. Areas disturbed by the excavation will be restored. This work is ongoing.

      The company is also conducting a pilot study to determine how to best treat ground water at the site. Ground water monitoring is ongoing. Sampling of residential wells has continued to date and the sampling has shown that the drinking water is not contaminated.

      The proposed plan announced today is for the final phase of the cleanup. Under the plan, buildings and other structures will be demolished and debris will be disposed of away from the area at facilities licensed to receive the waste. If a building does not need to be totally demolished, contaminated concrete surfaces will be removed and disposed of out of the area. The plan also calls for the proper disposal of contaminated oil, sludge, sediment and surface water that are associated with these structures.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. Alliant Techsystems has conducted and paid for the site investigation and several phases of the cleanup. The company does not have legal responsibility for the contaminated buildings, so the EPA will conduct this phase of the cleanup at an estimated cost of about $1.9 million.

      Written comments may be mailed to:
      Mr. Brian Quinn
      Remedial Project Manager
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2
      290 Broadway – 19th Floor
      New York, N.Y. 10007-1866
      212-637-4381
      quinn.brian@epa.gov

      The EPA has a web page on the Radiation Technology, Inc. Superfund at:
      http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/radiationtech/index.html.

      Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at
      http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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