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EPA Proposes Plan to Clean Up Chemical Pollution in Wall Township, Manasquan Borough and Sea Girt, New Jersey; Public Hearing Will Take Place August 27 on the $18.9 Million Cleanup Plan

Release Date: 08/20/2013
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site in Wall Township, Manasquan Borough and Sea Girt, New Jersey. Previous dry cleaning operations in Wall Township caused the contamination of the soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds, including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). Exposure to these chemicals can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer. The plan proposed will require the excavation and treatment of contaminated soil and the treatment of some ground water.

      The EPA will hold a public meeting on the proposed plan on August 27, 2013 and is encouraging public comment. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Wall Township Municipal Center, Main Meeting Room, 2700 Allaire Road, Wall, NJ. Public comments will be received until September 20, 2013.

      “Thirty years of operation by local dry cleaning companies have left a toxic contamination that will cost $19 million to address,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This is an astonishing toxic legacy that the EPA is addressing. Our top priority is protecting public health and the local environment. The public is urged to attend the August 27th public meeting.”

      White Swan Cleaners and Sun Cleaners operated in the area between 1960 and 1991 and are believed to have contributed to the PCE and TCE contamination in the soil and ground water. Vapors from the chemical contamination have seeped into some residential and commercial buildings in the vicinity. Area residents receive their drinking water from deep ground water that runs well below the layer of ground water that is contaminated. It is monitored regularly to ensure the water quality meets drinking water standards.

      In December 2001, the EPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection began investigating whether vapors from the contamination in the area were getting into homes, schools and businesses. Of approximately 500 properties sampled to date, 34 have needed mitigation systems to vent the vapors. These have all been installed. Indoor air sampling designed to identify any homes that may have unacceptable levels of PCE or TCE vapors in their basements is an ongoing active program.

      The EPA added the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners site to the federal Superfund list of most contaminated hazardous waste sites list in 2004.

      The plan announced today calls for actions to address the source of the contamination. Under the plan, about 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil at the former White Swan property will be dug up and disposed of at a facility licensed to receive the waste. The excavated areas will then be filled with clean soil.

      At the former Sun Cleaners property, a treatment system called soil vapor extraction will be used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil by extracting them in vapor form with a vacuum and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants. Additionally, at the Sun Cleaners property, a technology called air sparging will be used to reduce the contamination in the ground water. Air sparging is the process of injecting air directly into the contaminated ground water. As the air bubbles rise, the volatilized contaminants are carried up into the soil and removed by an extraction system that collects the vapors. This process poses no threat to local air quality.

      In other areas, ground water contaminated with volatile organic compounds will be pumped to a treatment plant where the polluted ground water will be cleaned using air stripping and activated carbon. Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed to ensure that the technology is fully effective. Additionally, the EPA will allow natural processes to reduce the level of contamination in some areas to meet ground water standards. The EPA will require periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the levels and extent of the contaminants are declining.

      The program to sample indoor air quality at nearby residential and commercial properties will continue and, when elevated levels are found, vapor mitigation systems will be installed to address the problem.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The proposed cleanup of the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site is expected to cost $18.9 million. EPA has identified Bank of America as a party potentially responsible for the site and the investigation and study of cleanup alternatives was paid for and performed by Bank of America.

      Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
Matthew Westgate, Remedial Project Manager