News | February 26, 2019

EPA Reopens Public Comment Period On Plan To Clean Up Contamination At The Universal Oil Products Superfund Site In East Rutherford, N.J.

Public Meeting to be Held in Hasbrouck Heights

On December 10, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an interim cleanup plan to address sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the waterways at the Universal Oil Products Superfund Site, which is located next to Berry’s Creek. The original public meeting was canceled due to the government shutdown, and the public comment period expired during that time. EPA has re-opened the public comment period on the cleanup proposal and re-scheduled a public meeting for March 6. EPA will now accept comments submitted by the public through March 22, 2019.

EPA’s proposed interim cleanup for the Universal Oil Products Superfund site, includes removing the top two feet of sediment totaling approximately 16,300 cubic yards. The excavated areas would then be backfilled with clean sand and gravel. Once a remedy is selected and implemented, these actions will reduce fish and wildlife exposures to harmful contaminants and prevent PCBs and other contaminants from impacting surrounding marshes and Berry’s Creek.

Other highlights of the EPA’s cleanup proposal include:

  • Dewatering, treatment, transportation, and off-site disposal of contaminated sediment.
  • Institutional controls, including New Jersey’s fish consumption advisories; and
  • Post-cleanup monitoring program that:
  • Monitors the surrounding ecosystem’s response to the cleanup as well as the adjacent marshes, waterways east of Murray Hill Parkway, and Berry’s Creek, which are hydrologically connected to the Universal Oil Products site.
  • Assesses whether volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the shallow groundwater are discharging to the waterways, and whether this potential discharge could compromise the interim sediment cleanup.

To learn more and to review the EPA’s cleanup proposal, please visit:  www.epa.gov/superfund/universal-oil

The public meeting to explain the cleanup proposal and other options that were considered, and to take public comments, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 6, 2019 at Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library, 320 Boulevard Hasbrouck Heights.

Background
The Universal Oil Products Superfund site is located near the intersection of Route 17 and Paterson Plank Road in East Rutherford and consists of approximately 74 acres of marshes, tidal waterways, highways, and commercial properties. As a result of previous operations by several companies at the site, the groundwater, soil and sediment became contaminated with lead, PCBs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and VOCs.

Berry’s Creek is a tributary to the Hackensack River traveling through Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, Rutherford, Teterboro, and Wood-Ridge, and includes approximately six miles of waterway, tributaries to the creek, and approximately 750 acres of marshes. The major contaminants in the Berry’s Creek Study Area are mercury, methyl mercury, PCBs, and chromium, which are at high levels in the water and sediment. The Berry’s Creek Study Area is a part of the Ventron/Velsicol Superfund Site. EPA selected an interim cleanup plan for portions of Berry’s Creek in September 2018.

Administrator’s Emphasis List
Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill the Agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. EPA established the Administrator’s Emphasis List in December 2017 in response to recommendations from EPA’s Superfund Task Force. The list is comprised of sites identified by Acting Administrator Wheeler and EPA regional offices that will benefit from the Administrator’s immediate attention or action. The list is updated quarterly with sites moving on and off the list as needed. The Universal Oil Products Superfund Site is on the Administrator’s Emphasis List. The Superfund Task Force Update can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations.

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)