EPA to perform $23M cleanup of NJ Superfund site

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New York, NY, April 18, 2013 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a legal agreement with SL Industries, Inc. and SL Surface Technologies, Inc. to perform soil cleanup and reimburse EPA's past costs at the Puchack Well Field Superfund site in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey The soil to be cleaned up is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and is contributing to the pollution of groundwater at the site. Hexavalent chromium may cause cancer and can have other serious health impacts. Six public drinking water supply wells near the site, which served part of Camden had to be taken out of use due to contamination. Area residents are connected to safe sources of drinking water from other municipal water supplies.

"Clean drinking water is a top priority for the EPA. By reducing the amount of chromium in the soil, the EPA is protecting people's health by keeping the contaminated soil from further polluting the groundwater," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "This agreement allows the remediation of the Puchack Well Field Superfund site with the cost paid by polluters, not taxpayers."

In September 2011, the EPA issued its final plan addressing chromium-contaminated groundwater. The EPA is treating the contaminated groundwater using lactate, a nonhazardous additive that will reduce the contamination.

The second phase of the cleanup, which is the subject of the legal agreement announced today, will require the cleanup of the contaminated soil that is contributing to the hexavalent chromium groundwater contamination. With EPA oversight, contractors working for the two companies will mix the soil with a nontoxic material that will convert the highly toxic hexavalent form of chromium into the less toxic form of chromium called trivalent chromium. This approach will reduce the levels of hexavalent chromium in the soil to prevent recontamination of the groundwater. The EPA will oversee a study to determine the type and quantity of the chemical agent to be used. After the treatment, soil samples will be analyzed to confirm that the treatment was effective. Additionally, the ground water will be monitored to ensure that the soil is no longer a source of contamination. The cleanup work required in the agreement will cost approximately $23 million. It also requires SL Industries, Inc. and SL Surface Technologies, Inc. to reimburse over $10.7 million of the EPA’s past costs.

Ground water contamination was first detected at a limited number of wells at the Puchack Well Field in the 1970s. Subsequent testing in the early 1980s found contamination in additional wells. By 1984, the well field was no longer used as a source of drinking water. The EPA added the Puchack Well Field to the federal Superfund list in 1998. Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous sites. Under the program, the EPA seeks to get those responsible for contamination at a site to pay or perform the cleanup.

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