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EPA Announces Remediation Plan for a Part of American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater Township, N.J.

Release Date: 09/28/2012
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated soil, ground water and six waste disposal areas at the American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, located adjacent to the Raritan River. The soil, ground water and waste disposal areas, called impoundments, are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and other hazardous materials. 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 extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the level and how long people may be exposed to the contaminants. Residents within the area impacted by the contaminated ground water are serviced by a public water supply that provides a clean source of drinking water.

      The final cleanup plan announced today addresses contaminated soil and impoundment material at the site in addition to contaminated ground water. The plan was first proposed to the public in February 2012. The EPA held a public meeting and took public comment for 90 days. The EPA reviewed the extensive public comments submitted and has prepared detailed responses to these comments, which can be found on the EPA’s web site at http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/american_cyanamid.
      "The cleanup work at the American Cyanamid site will be accelerated by this final plan," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "The cleanup plan will protect the health of people living in the area and will move us closer to completing this important cleanup.”

      The EPA cleanup plan focuses on contaminated soil, ground water, and six waste disposal areas (called impoundments 3, 4, 5, 13, 17 and 24). Two additional impoundments (called impoundments 1 and 2) will be addressed under a separate cleanup plan, which will be available for public review in late 2014.

      The highly toxic material in Impoundments 3, 4, and 5 will be treated in their current locations by introducing a mixing agent into the waste to make it more solid and prevent movement. This treatment method is a proven technology that immobilizes contaminants to prevent their migration. After it is treated, the waste disposal areas will be covered with a system that captures and treats air pollutants and prevents them from escaping into the air.

      The soil at the site will be addressed using three different methods depending on the extent of the pollution in the soil. Soil that consists of highly hazardous materials similar to the waste within Impoundments 3, 4, and 5 will be excavated and placed into these three impoundments for treatment along with the existing waste. Soil containing volatile compounds that have the potential to spread into the air will be covered with a vapor control barrier and system to prevent the release of vapors into the air. Soil that has a lower level of pollution will be covered by a 24-inch thick engineered cap that will serve as a barrier that prevents direct contact. Additionally, the EPA will conduct an ecological study of the waste in Impoundments 13, 17 and 24 to confirm the appropriate management of these materials.

      A currently operating ground water collection system, which has already treated billions of gallons of contaminated ground water at the site, will be improved by relocating the primary extraction wells to a more central location. Several new extraction wells will be added to enhance the efficiency of the ground water collection system. In addition, a recovery system for collecting and treating shallow contaminated ground water from portions of the site will be constructed at several locations. This system will prevent contaminated ground water from seeping into the Raritan River, Cuckel’s (or Cuckhold’s) Brook, and Middle Brook. The details of these improvements will be developed during the remedial design phase of the cleanup project. All ground water collected at the site will be treated.

      The final plan selected also calls for the placement of controls such as legal restrictions on land use to minimize the potential of future exposure and to ensure that the cleanup measures are not disturbed. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy. The EPA will conduct periodic reviews to ensure that the cleanup remains protective of public health and the environment.

      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 impacts to 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. In 1998, the EPA removed 140 acres of the site from the Superfund list. That land was made available for redevelopment and now includes the TD Bank Ballpark Stadium and the Bridgewater Promenade shopping center.

      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. The estimated cost of the cleanup is $205 million.

      Visit EPA's webpage for additional information about the site or to view the Record of Decision: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/american_cyanamid.

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