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EPA Seeks Public Input on Plan for Cleanup at Puchack Superfund Site in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey; Contamination Closed Down Public Drinking Water Supply

Release Date: 06/17/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposed plan to remediate soil at the Puchack Well Field Superfund site in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey that is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and is contributing to the pollution of ground water underlying the site. The 450,000-square-foot site contains six public drinking water supply wells that have been taken out of use to protect people’s health. Area residents have been connected to a municipal water supply that provides a safe source of drinking water. Hexavalent chromium is extremely toxic. It can cause cancer and can have other serious health impacts, including nervous system damage.

Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, EPA divided the investigation and cleanup into two phases. The plan announced today is the second of the two phases of the cleanup. EPA will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan for the second phase and receive comments on June 21, 2011.

"Clean drinking water is a top priority for EPA. By reducing the amount of chromium in the soil, EPA is protecting people’s health by keeping the contaminated soil from polluting ground water," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The cleanup plan advances the essential work at the Puchack Well Field site, and EPA encourages public input on the proposed plan."

Ground water contamination was first detected at a limited number of wells at the Puchack Well Field in the 1970s. Subsequent testing in the early 1980s found contamination in additional wells. By 1984, the well field was no longer used as a source of drinking water. EPA added the Puchack Well Field to the federal Superfund list in 1998. Sampling indicates that no currently operating municipal wells are being impacted by the contaminated ground water. EPA has worked with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Geological Survey on this site.

The first phase of the cleanup is addressing the investigation and cleanup of the chromium contaminated ground water. Later this fall, as part of the continuing first phase of the cleanup, EPA will begin treating the contaminated ground water using lactate, a non-hazardous additive that will reduce the contamination. The treatment with lactate was selected after the EPA conducted a pilot study to test its effectiveness.

The second phase of the cleanup calls for the investigation and cleanup of the contaminated soil that is contributing to the hexavalent chromium ground water contamination. Consistent with the first phase, EPA is proposing to mix the soil with a nontoxic material that will convert the highly toxic hexavalent form of chromium into the far less toxic form of chromium called trivalent chromium. This approach will reduce the levels of hexavalent chromium in the soil to prevent recontamination of the ground water. EPA will conduct a study to determine the type and quantity of the chemical agent to be used. Structures on the site will be demolished to provide access to the contaminated soil. After the treatment, soil samples will be collected and studied to confirm that the treatment was effective. Additionally, the ground water will be monitored to ensure that the soil is no longer a source of contamination.

EPA is requesting public comments on the proposed plan for the second phase of the cleanup and will hold a public meeting on June 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm, Rutgers University Camden Campus, Fine Arts Building, 314 Linden St, Room 110, Camden, New Jersey. Comments will be accepted until July 13, 2011.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
Mr. Jonathan Gorin
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2
290 Broadway – 19Th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10007-1866
212-637-4361
gorin.jonathan@epa.gov

The EPA has a web page on the site at: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/puchack/index.html

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