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EPA Signs Agreement with Army Corps, Dept. of Energy to Ensure Cleanup of Middlesex, NJ Site

Release Date: 10/13/2009
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of Energy (DOE) covering federal facilities, which details responsibilities for the cleanup of a contaminated site in Middlesex, New Jersey. The federal facilities agreement specifies that USACE is responsible for cleaning up the site and DOE is responsible for long-term surveillance after the cleanup. The property was used by the Atomic Energy Commission as part of the nation’s early atomic energy program to handle various radioactive ores.

”This agreement will ensure that the contamination resulting from past activities at the site is extensively investigated,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “An agreement like this makes it possible to have a comprehensive and thorough cleanup, so that the surrounding community and the environment are protected.”

From 1943 to 1967, the Middlesex site was used by the Atomic Energy Commission to sample, store, test, and transfer ores containing uranium, thorium, and beryllium. The site was placed in the custody of DOE in 1980. Investigations conducted by DOE at the site identified several contaminants, including uranium, radium, arsenic, chromium, lead and volatile organic compounds, in the soil, sediments, ground water beneath the site, and surface water moving through the site.

DOE took a series of actions in the 1980s to clean up portions of the site, including excavating some of the contaminated soil from surrounding properties and the nearby Middlesex Municipal Landfill. This soil was temporarily stored at the site and removed and properly disposed of in the late 1990s. In 1997, responsibility for further investigation and cleanup activities was transferred to USACE, which currently oversees and monitors the site. EPA added the Middlesex Sampling Plant site to the National Priorities List in 1999.

The USACE conducted studies on both the site soil and the ground water. The final cleanup plan for the contaminated soil was chosen in September 2005 and included excavation and off-site disposal of the contaminated soil to levels that would allow for residential use. The soil excavation was completed in the spring of 2008 with a final inspection performed by EPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in July 2008. USACE is currently collecting additional water samples for the second phase of the cleanup, which will deal with the ground water contamination. The additional sampling will help to fully develop alternatives for remediation of the ground water.

Interested members of the public are encouraged to comment on the agreement during the 45-day public comment period, which ends on November 23, 2009. Comments should be submitted in writing Helen Shannon, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway New York, New York 10007-1866, (212) 637-4260, shannon.helen@epa.gov. Written comments submitted to EPA by the close of the public comment period will be considered.

The agreement is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/middlesex/index.html.

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