EPA prepares cleanup plan for toxic former industrial NJ site

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NEW YORK, NY, July 1, 2014 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a plan to address soil, sediment and surface water contaminated with hexavalent chromium (hex chrome) and heavy metals by past industrial operations at the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site located in Newfield and Vineland, N.J.

The proposed plan calls for a combination of cleanup measures at portions of the site including capping of the soil, excavating and removing contaminated sediment and prohibiting future residential use of the facility. Wells in the area are not used for drinking water, and residents have been connected to a municipal water supply that provides a secure source of drinking water.

The site includes a 67-acre area where the Shieldalloy facility was located, as well as the Hudson Branch of the Maurice River. The company processed ores and minerals to produce metals and alloys at the site from 1955 to 2006. The company discharged industrial wastewater directly to unlined lagoons and to surface water.

Contaminated areas of the facility itself, including a by-products area, waste water lagoons and storage tanks have been addressed by previous actions. Processing operations have ceased, but the site is still utilized today as office space and for warehousing. The site was listed on the EPA's Superfund List in 1984.

Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the investigations and cleanup of the site has been conducted in stages by the EPA, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the parties responsible for the site.

Slag and waste generated by the facility contaminated areas of the site with uranium and thorium. The slag piles and radioactive waste at the site are not part of the federal Superfund site and are being addressed by NJDEP and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2006, Shieldalloy submitted a proposal to NRC to decommission the slag pile by capping the radioactive material at the site. The decommissioning proposal is pending.

The site is also contaminated with perchlorate. Perchlorate is both a naturally-occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares, and explosives. Under a legal agreement between the EPA and the parties responsible for the site, perchlorate contamination will be addressed in a separate phase of the cleanup. A study of the nature and extent of the perchlorate is ongoing.

In 2010, the EPA assumed oversight responsibility for the site from the NJDEP. The EPA conducted an in-depth investigation of the extent of the contamination in surface water, sediment and soils in order to determine how best to clean it up over the long term. The proposal addresses portions of the Shieldalloy site that are distinct from the radioactive contamination and the perchlorate contamination.

The EPA is proposing to place a one- to two-foot cap over soil in a 1.3-acre area of the facility to reduce potential exposure. Future on-site construction will be restricted to commercial use. The EPA is proposing to restrict other construction activities that could disturb the area. The plan includes removing of 9,800 cubic yards of sediment that is contaminated with metals from the Hudson Branch.

Water will be removed from the sediment and will be taken to a facility licensed to receive the waste. The stream will be restored after the excavation. Surface water will be monitored until water quality standards are met. Other protective measures such as fencing will be maintained. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

The proposed cleanup of the Shieldalloy site under the EPA's plan is expected to cost $5.3 million. EPA will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan and receive comments until Saturday, July 26, 2014. The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at the Newfield Borough Hall, 8 Catawba Avenue, in Newfield, N.J.

See also:

"Contaminants of Concern: Regulatory and Treatment Considerations in Industrial Manufacturing Processes"

"Agency proposes nation's first standard for hexavalent chromium"

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