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EPA Makes It Official: Signs Final Decision on Clean-Up Plan for Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site

Release Date: 11/13/2000
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(#00207) New York, N.Y. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided on a plan to clean up the sources of groundwater contamination at the Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site in Toms River, New Jersey. In its "Record of Decision," the agency selected one of the several cleanup options it had presented to the Toms River community as the official plan for addressing the Ciba site. This option, "On-Site Ex-Situ Bioremediation with Off-Site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material," is the one EPA had recommended to the Toms River community in June of this year, when it issued its "Proposed Remedial Action Plan."

"This plan is the result of the combined efforts of EPA, the citizens of Toms River and the company," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator. "We’re especially grateful to the people of Toms River who are involved in the process and who worked with scientists and engineers to arrive at a remedy that meets the needs of the environment and the community. We look forward to getting to work."

The designated plan will address the areas at the site that have released or that may in the future release contaminants to the groundwater underlying the property. These areas, called "source areas," were created by three major operations conducted by Ciba-Geigy. The operations and their major related source areas are: 1) waste disposal operations -- the Filtercake Disposal Area, the Lime Sludge Disposal Area, the Drum Disposal Area, the Standpipe Burner Area and the Borrower/Compactor Area; 2) wastewater treatment operations -- two Equalization Basins and the Backfilled Lagoon area; and 3) production-related operationsthe South Dye Area and the Building 108/Underground Storage Tank Area. This remedy will significantly reduce the length of time that the groundwater treatment system, currently in place, will have to operate, while protecting the health of Toms River residents and the local environment. At present, the groundwater is treated at a rate of 2.7 million gallons a day.

Major components of EPA’s plan include:

    • using bacteria that already exist in the source areas to break down the contaminants in approximately 145,000 cubic yards of soil primarily from the Drum Disposal Area, Standpipe Burner Area, Equalization Basins, Filtercake Disposal Area and Backfilled Lagoon Area. This process, called bioremediation, will occur on the Ciba property. The contaminants to be treated using this method include a number of chlorinated benzenes, among other chemicals;
    • removing from the property for treatment and disposal, the contents of approximately 19,500 drums of filtercake material and lab wastes from the Drum Disposal Area. These wastes contain high levels of organic contaminants;
    • removing approximately 12,350 drums of solid waste and other materials from the Drum Disposal Area that contain low levels of organic contaminants, and disposing of their contents off-site;
    • removing from the site for treatment and/or disposal approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil;
    • installing protective caps and barrier walls in the major source areas to prevent contaminants from moving into the groundwater. The cap over the Filtercake Disposal Area will also prevent humans and animals from coming into contact with the contaminants;
    • treating contaminants in soils located below the groundwater level in the two Equalization Basins in place using bioremediation; and
    • placing deed restrictions on certain parts of the Ciba site, which will permanently prevent them from being developed in any way that might affect the cleanup process or expose the contaminants.
The estimated cost of the cleanup is $92 million, which will be borne by Ciba Specialty Chemicals.

EPA will now begin the process of designing the various components of the remediation plan, which will take approximately two years. The agency will hold periodic public meetings during the design process to discuss the technical aspects of the design and to seek public input. After the detailed design plan is complete, the construction of bioremediation units and removal of the drums and other wastes will begin. The actual remediation process will take an estimated eight years.

The 1,350-acre Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corporation Superfund site is located on Oak Ridge Parkway in Toms River. Ciba-Geigy began producing dyes and other products at the site in 1952. Over the years, the company disposed of sludge, chemical waste and treated wastewater on-site in the areas mentioned above. Spills and releases of a variety of chemicals from some of these areas resulted in an underground plume of contaminated groundwater and extensive soil contamination. EPA added the site to the Superfund list of the nation’s most significant areas of contamination in 1983, and later required Ciba to install a massive treatment system for the contaminated groundwater. The treatment system has been in full operation since March 1996.

Interested members of the public may obtain a copy of EPA’s Record of Decision at the Ocean County Library, located at 101 Washington Street in Toms River, or by calling Natalie Loney of EPA at (212) 637-3639.