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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Three Companies to Repay EPA for Costs of Cleaning Up Contaminated Site in Clifton, New Jersey

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced legal agreements with Clifton 2003, L.L.C, Hampshire Generational Fund, L.L.C and WEA Enterprises Co., Inc. to repay $2.1 million spent by the EPA to clean up contamination at Abrachem Chemical, a former bulk chemical packaging facility in Clifton, New Jersey. When the EPA began its investigation and cleanup of the site in 2008, it reeked of caustic chemicals and solvents that were leaking from rusted and mislabeled drums. Sampling of the contents of over 1,600 drums revealed the presence of hazardous materials, including corrosive and flammable chemicals, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals can have serious health impacts, including an increased risk of cancer.

“The legal agreements to recover the considerable costs of the Abrachem Chemical cleanup means that the responsible parties will bear the financial burden for cleaning up this site, not taxpayers, “ said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The Abrachem Chemical site was found in a horrible state of disrepair and posed serious risks to the health of people in the surrounding community. Today the site is cleaned up, people’s health has been protected, the property is being productively used for a new business and the responsible parties are footing the majority of the bill.”

After being contacted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 2008, the EPA conducted an initial investigation and found that Abrachem was improperly storing drums and bulk containers of known and unknown chemicals in seventeen, 43-foot long shipping containers and elsewhere on the property. Drums at the site were leaking and there was a strong chemical odor emanating from the facility. However, the EPA was unable to clean up the site because Clifton 2003, one of the site owners, refused to grant EPA full access to its property. In January 2009, the EPA got a warrant from a federal judge that allowed access to the property to start a cleanup.

The EPA first removed drums of the unknown chemicals from the shipping containers and moved them into the facility for staging and sampling to determine what they were. On several occasions over the course of the seven-month cleanup, areas of the surrounding community were evacuated with the assistance of local and state authorities when unknown and potentially explosive chemicals were discovered.

The EPA also identified the chemicals in the mislabeled drums and, when possible, identified where the drums had originated. Hundreds of containers were returned to their owners, while others were disposed of by the EPA at licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities out of the area. The floors inside the facility were washed and decontaminated and all debris and trash removed. The EPA completed its work in September 2009.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters, not taxpayers, should pay for the cleanups. The EPA works hard to recover taxpayer dollars spent on the cleanup of abandoned and polluted sites. In this instance, more than 82 percent of the costs will be repaid through EPA’s enforcement action and resulting agreements.

For more information including an archived 2009 video about the Abrachem site, visit

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