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EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Toxic Site in Newfield, New Jersey; Heavy metals and hexavalent chromium to be Addressed

Release Date: 06/27/2014
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 address soil, sediment and surface water that is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and heavy metals by past industrial operations at the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site in Newfield and Vineland, New Jersey. The proposed plan calls for a combination of cleanup measures at portions of the site including capping of the soil, excavating and removing contaminated sediment and prohibiting future residential use of the facility.

      Hexavalent chromium and heavy metals can have serious health impacts, including nervous system damage and cancer.

      Wells in the area are not used for drinking water and residents have been connected to a municipal water supply that provides a secure source of drinking water.

      EPA will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan and receive comments until July 26, 2014. The public meeting will be held on July 9, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Newfield Borough Hall, 8 Catawba Avenue, Newfield, NJ.

      The site includes a 67-acre area where the Shieldalloy facility was located, as well as the Hudson Branch of the Maurice River. The company processed ores and minerals to produce metals and alloys at the site from 1955 to 2006. The company discharged industrial wastewater directly to unlined lagoons and to surface water. Contaminated areas of the facility itself, including a by-products area, nine waste water lagoons, and storage tanks have been addressed by previous actions. Processing operations have ceased, but the site is still utilized today as office space and for warehousing. The site was listed on the EPA’s Superfund list in 1984.

      Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the investigations and cleanup of the site has been conducted in stages by the EPA, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the parties responsible for the site.

      Work overseen by the NJDEP in the 1970’s addressed immediate risks to the surrounding community. Beginning in 1979, parties responsible for the site began operating a system to pump and treat the contaminated ground water. In 1986, the state of New Jersey restricted the use of wells in the area and required mandatory connection with the public water system to protect people’s health. At NJDEP’s direction, the company excavated the lagoons, removed 40 buried drums and the storage tanks, and capped several industrial areas of the site. In 1996, the ground water treatment system was subsequently enhanced to remove metals. Additionally, an air stripper was added, which forces air through polluted ground water to remove harmful chemicals.

      Slag and waste generated by the facility contaminated areas of the site with uranium and thorium. The slag piles and radioactive waste at the site are not part of the federal Superfund site and are being addressed by NJDEP and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2006, Shieldalloy submitted a proposal to NRC to decommission the slag pile by capping the radioactive material at the site. The decommissioning proposal is pending.

      The site is also contaminated with perchlorate. Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives. Under a legal agreement between EPA and the parties responsible for the site, perchlorate contamination will be addressed in a separate phase of the cleanup. A study of the nature and extent of the perchlorate is ongoing.

      In 2010, the EPA assumed oversight responsibility for the site from the NJDEP. The EPA conducted an in-depth investigation of the extent of the contamination in surface water, sediment and soils in order to determine how best to clean it up over the long term. The proposal announced this week addresses portions of the Shieldalloy site that are distinct from the radioactive contamination and the perchlorate contamination.

      The EPA is proposing to place a one to two foot cap over soil in a 1.3 acre area of the facility to reduce potential exposure. Future on-site construction will be restricted to commercial use. The EPA is proposing to restrict other construction activities that could disturb the area. The plan includes removing of 9,800 cubic yards of sediment that is contaminated with metals from the Hudson Branch. Water will be removed from the sediment and it will be taken to a facility licensed to receive the waste. The stream will be restored after the excavation. Surface water will be monitored until water quality standards are met. Other protective measures such as fencing will be maintained. The EPA will conduct a review every 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. The cleanup of the Shieldalloy site is being conducted and paid for by the responsible parties with oversight by the EPA. The proposed cleanup of the Shieldalloy site under the EPA’s plan is expected to cost $5.3 million.

      Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
      Sherrel Henry, Remedial Project Manager
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      290 Broadway, 20th Floor
      New York, NY 10007
      (212) 637-4273
      henry.sherrel@epa.gov

      To view the EPA’s record of decision for the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site, please visit:
      http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/shieldalloy.

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

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