The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a final legal agreement with ten companies to conduct the cleanup of contaminated ground water at the Evor Phillips Leasing Company Superfund site in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey. The ground water beneath the six-acre site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds from past industrial activities. The estimated $1.4M cleanup will be conducted by Cabot Corporation, Carpenter Technology Corporation, CWM Chemical Services, LLC, Ford Motor Company, International Flavors and Fragrances Inc., Johnson Matthey, Rutgers Organics Corporation, Spectraserv, Inc., Spiral Metal Company, LLC and Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. with EPA oversight of the work. The United States New Jersey District Court approved the proposed Consent Decree on May 6, 2014.
Volatile organic compounds can have serious health effects and some can cause cancer. The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the level and length of exposure to the pollution.
“This agreement provides the funds to address the chemicals in the ground water that pose risks to people’s health and the environment,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “As the law requires, the polluters, not taxpayers are paying for the cleanup that will protect the health of people who live and work in this community.”
From the early 1970s to 1986, the Evor Phillips site was used for industrial waste treatment and metal recovery operations. Liquid waste was treated at the property and two waste disposal areas were used to neutralize acidic and caustic wastewater. The site also contained 19 small furnaces for incinerating photographic film and printed circuit boards to recover silver and other precious metals. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection closed down the liquid waste treatment operations in 1975 after the operators failed to comply with state environmental requirements. All operations at the site stopped in 1986 with the shutdown of the metal recovery furnaces.
The Evor Phillips site was listed on the EPA’s Superfund list of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites in 1983. Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the cleanup has been done in three phases. The first phase, conducted by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, involved the removal of approximately 40 buried drums and soil contaminated by metals, and the construction of a ground water treatment system to prevent the contaminated ground water from moving off site. In 2002, several companies responsible for the contamination began operating the ground water treatment system with NJDEP oversight. The companies also demolished office buildings and furnaces and removed buried drums, contaminated soil and underground storage tanks.
The EPA took the lead in overseeing the cleanup in 2008. The second phase of the cleanup, the removal of contaminated soil has been completed. The third phase, which will be conducted under the current agreement, is the long-term treatment of the ground water using a process known as chemical oxidation. Chemical oxidation uses chemicals to destroy pollution in soil and ground water, breaking down the harmful chemicals into water and carbon dioxide. The oxidants are pumped into the ground water at different depths targeting polluted areas. Each injection is followed by monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.
Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed to ensure that the technology is effective. The ground water will be monitored for several years after the cleanup goals have been met to demonstrate that the ground water is no longer a source of contamination.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups.
For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/evorphillips/.
SOURCE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency