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EPA to Hold Meeting to Inform Community on Next Steps at Welsbach Superfund Site

Release Date: 08/17/2009
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding a public meeting to discuss the start of the next round of the cleanup already underway at the Welsbach/Gas Mantle Superfund site in Camden County, New Jersey. The next properties EPA plans on cleaning up are the recreational areas along Johnson Boulevard. The properties include the Gloucester City Land Preserve, as well as two ball fields in Gloucester City. The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 7pm at the Courthouse in Gloucester City Hall, located at 313 Monmouth Street.

“EPA has already accomplished a great deal at the Welsbach site, which includes areas in both Camden and Gloucester City,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “The next phase of cleanup work will involve recreational fields and EPA is tailoring its cleanup plans to limit any inconveniences to the community while we work to clean up the contamination in these areas.”

EPA will be excavating and safely disposing of radiologically-contaminated soil at the Gloucester City Land Preserve, as well as the North Fields, located just north of the Gloucester City Water Works, and the South Fields, located just south of Nicholson Road. To better understand how the community uses these ball fields, EPA has been working closely with Gloucester City officials and the local sports teams. By working with and involving community members, EPA has adjusted its workplans to better accommodate the needs of the community. For example, EPA plans on working between the hours of 7:30am and 5:30pm, so that cleanup activities do not take place during practice and game times.

Radiological contamination is mainly beneath the ground surface, and although slightly elevated levels of radiation are still present at the surface by the ball fields, the surface contamination is in non-recreational areas such as parking lots. These areas do not pose an increased risk to the public using these facilities. In 1999, EPA removed an area with elevated surface contamination between the tennis courts and the jogging track by excavating about three feet of contaminated soil. EPA restored the area with clean fill. This action greatly reduced the risk from the surface contamination at the South Field.

EPA plans to begin the cleanup at the Gloucester City Land Preserve by early fall 2009. Work at the North Fields should start sometime in 2010. The Land Preserve cleanup will take about three months to complete and the North Fields will take about 18 months. EPA plans to start the work at the South Fields once work is completed at the North Fields. EPA estimates that it will take about 2 years to complete the South Fields work.

EPA has been cleaning up the Welsbach Superfund site in Gloucester City and Camden since 2001. Properties where EPA has completed cleanup activities include the Essex Street/Gloucester City Swim Club, Temple Avenue along Newton Creek, the 500 Block Section of Division Street, and numerous residential properties, including those along Highland Boulevard and Klemm Avenue. In 2001, EPA demolished the former General Gas Mantle building in Camden. Earlier this year EPA started soil cleanup activities around the former General Gas Mantle facility. EPA expects to complete this work later in 2010.

For more information on the Welsbach site, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/welsbach/. For a Google Earth aerial view of this portion of the Welsbach/Gas Mantle Superfund site, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/welsbach_and_general_gas_mantle.kml. (Please note that you must have Google Earth installed on your computer. To download Google Earth, visit: http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html) .

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