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EPA Adds Curtis Paper Site to the Superfund List of Hazardous Waste Sites

Release Date: 09/23/2009
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212)637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is today announcing its decision to add the Curtis Specialty Papers, Inc. site (also known as the James River Paper site) in Milford, New Jersey to the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL guides the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation and long-term cleanup. Today’s announcement will build on cleanup work already performed at Curtis Specialty Papers under EPA’s short-term cleanup program.

“We have already addressed the most immediate threats at this site and secured it to prevent access and further deterioration,” said Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “Now it is time to take a close look at what might be needed to protect the surrounding community into the future. By listing this site, we can move forward on a further investigation of additional threats that the site may pose over the long-term.”

EPA’s future investigations will center on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the main contaminant of concern at the site. PCBs have been detected in soil at the site and along the banks of Quequacommisacong Creek. PCBs have also been found in pipes that discharge from the site to Quequacommisacong Creek and in the creek. PCBs are probable human
carcinogens, which may also have serious effects on the immune, neurological and reproductive systems. The creek is a fishery, and feeds into the Delaware River, which is adjacent to the site. The Delaware River is a major fishery, and there are many sensitive environments, such as wetlands and habitats for endangered species in the vicinity.

The 109-acre Curtis Specialty Papers property consists of a building complex, which includes the main mill building, the former coatings facility, a cogeneration power plant, and a wastewater treatment plant. The main mill, known as the Milford Mill, converted paper pulp to finished food-grade paper. The former coatings facility, which is located approximately 400 feet northwest of the Milford Mill, operated from approximately 1935 to 1988, during which time solvent-based resins were compounded and coated onto paper and other products.

In August 2001, the owners of the facility submitted a work plan to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), based on a preliminary investigation of the site. Before work could start, however, the company shut down operations and declared bankruptcy. The facility was closed down and left unsecured.

After the closure of the facility in 2003, the site was repeatedly vandalized and scavenged for materials. In 2006, NJDEP began work to address aboveground storage tanks, numerous labeled and unlabeled chemical containers, and high-pressure oxygen tanks. The state then turned the site over to EPA. EPA established site security and secured visible hazardous materials containers, identified and classified materials for waste disposal, inspected storage tanks to determine contents, and disposed of empty containers at the former hazardous materials storage area. EPA ordered the bankrupt owner of the site to take over site security in late 2008. In June 2009, under an agreement with EPA to perform a remedial investigation and feasibility study at the site, two potentially responsible parties began preliminary investigation work, and they have also removed oil-filled capacitors.

EPA proposed this site for NPL listing in September 2008 and a 60-day comment period followed during which the public was welcomed to submit comments on the proposed listing.

For a Google Earth aerial view of the Curtis Paper site, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region02/kml/curtis_specialty_papers.kml (You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html ). To find out more about the NPL Site Listing Process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm.