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Friday, October 5, 2012

EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Scientific Chemical Processing Superfund Site in Carlstadt New Jersey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated ground water at the Scientific Chemical Processing Superfund site in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Past industrial activities contaminated shallow and deep levels of the ground water with volatile organic compounds, which can have serious health effects. The cleanup plan calls for the ground water to be treated to break down the contaminants to protect people’s health and the environment. The EPA held a public meeting on August 19, 2012 to explain its plan and considered public input before finalizing it.

Some volatile organic compounds 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.

From the 1940s to 1980, what is now referred to as the Scientific Chemical Processing site was used to process solvents for further use or disposal. In 1970, the Scientific Chemical Processing Company leased the site and used the property for processing industrial waste from 1971 until the company was shut down.

The Scientific Chemical Processing site was listed on the EPA’s Superfund list of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites in 1983. Between 1983 and 1985, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection required the company to remove approximately 250,000 gallons of waste stored in tanks that had been abandoned at the site. The EPA took the lead in overseeing the cleanup in 1985.

Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the cleanup has been conducted in three phases. The first phase began in 1990, when the EPA implemented a plan to contain contaminated shallow ground water and soil on the former Scientific Chemical Processing property while a longer term plan could be developed. An underground wall was constructed to prevent the contaminated ground water from moving off the property. A cap was installed to prevent exposure to contaminated soil on the property and to keep rain and flood water from seeping into the ground water. In addition, a system was built to collect the shallow ground water so it could be shipped off-site for treatment and disposal.

In August 2002, based on the results of monitoring conducted after the first phase of work, the EPA began implementing a long-term plan for the shallow ground water and soil on the property. Under this plan, the EPA removed an area of highly contaminated soil and upgraded the ground water extraction system. Ground water is still being shipped off-site for treatment and disposal. This work was completed in October 2011.

During the third and final phase under the plan that has just been finalized, substances designed to break down the contaminants to less toxic forms will be injected into the deeper ground water in affected areas both on and off the former Scientific Chemical Processing Company property. Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed regularly to ensure the technology is effective and remains protective of human health and the environment. Monitoring will continue until ground water cleanup levels have been met.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The cleanup of the Scientific Chemical Processing site is being conducted and paid for by a group of over 100 companies with oversight by the EPA.

For more information on the Scientific Chemical Processing Superfund site, go to: