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EPA Reaches Agreement with Wyeth Holdings Corporation on the Cleanup of the American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey

Release Date: 03/21/2013
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a legal agreement with Wyeth Holdings Corporation, a subsidiary of the Pfizer Corporation, to perform pre-construction design work, an initial step in the cleanup of the American Cyanamid Superfund site in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. On September 27, 2012, the EPA issued its final plan to address contaminated soil, ground water and six waste disposal areas (called impoundments 3, 4, 5, 13, 17 and 24) at the site. The agreement also requires the company to complete a study evaluating alternatives for cleaning up two additional chemical waste areas (called impoundments 1 and 2). In addition, Wyeth Holdings Corporation agreed to continue to operate a system for collecting and treating contaminated ground water underneath the site to prevent it from seeping into the nearby Raritan River, Cuckhold’s Brook and Middle Brook. All cleanup work will be done under the EPA’s oversight.

      The soil, ground water and waste disposal areas or impoundments, are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and other hazardous materials. The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the level of contamination to which people are exposed and how long people may be exposed to the contaminants. The ground water underlying the site is highly contaminated with benzene. Many volatile organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals and benzene can cause cancer in people.

      “The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This agreement allows the cleanup of the American Cyanamid Superfund site to move forward without passing the costs to taxpayers.”
      The cleanup of the American Cyanamid site will proceed once the design plans are completed and approved by the EPA. The estimated cost of the cleanup is $205 million and Wyeth Holdings Corporation will reimburse all of the EPA’s oversight costs. The design work is expected to take approximately two years.

      The American Cyanamid Superfund Site has a history of industrial pollution dating back to 1915. For nearly 100 years, prior owners used the location for manufacturing chemicals. A number of impoundments were constructed and used for waste storage and disposal throughout this time period, which eventually resulted in the contamination of soil and ground water. The site was placed on the federal Superfund list in 1983 after hazardous chemicals were found in the impoundments, soil and ground water.

      To see the EPA’s cleanup plan and the full history of the site, please visit:
      http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/american_cyanamid

      Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. When sites are placed on the Superfund list, the EPA looks for parties responsible for the pollution and requires them to pay for the cleanups. In 2009, Pfizer Inc. assumed responsibility for the American Cyanamid site as part of its purchase of the Wyeth Holdings Corporation, a prior owner.

      For a copy of the consent order, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/american_cyanamid/docs.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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