Enforcement

Case Summary: 70 Companies Agree to Remove Highly Contaminated Mud from Lyndhurst Section of Passaic River

On June 18, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached agreement with 70 companies to remove approximately 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from a half-mile long area of the Passaic River in Lyndhurst, N.J. at their expense. The 70 companies are considered potentially responsible for the contamination of that portion of the lower Passaic River. High levels of contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury and dioxin, are present in the sediment and can cause health effects. The cleanup is estimated to cost $20 million and the work is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.

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Information about the Diamond Alkali/Passaic River Superfund Site

For about 30 years during the mid-20th Century, various companies manufactured pesticides and herbicides, including those used to formulate the defoliant "Agent Orange," at facilities in Newark, New Jersey (Essex County) that are now part of the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site. EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List on September 21, 1984 because of hazardous substances present at the site and in the Passaic River, which borders the property. The site is comprised of three parts: the former pesticides manufacturing plant and surrounding properties at 80 and 120 Lister Avenue, the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project Study Area, and the Newark Bay Study Area. EPA treats each as a unique part of its investigation and cleanup efforts.

The lower Passaic River study area is a 17-mile stretch of river from Dundee Dam near Garfield, New Jersey to Newark Bay and several tributaries, while the Newark Bay study area includes the bay and portions of the Hackensack River, Arthur Kill, and Kill Van Kull. The area encompassed by the Superfund site is both densely populated and heavily industrialized. More information on the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site is available on Region 2's website.

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Pollutants and Environmental Effects

Dioxin, pesticides and volatile organic compounds, all of which can pose serious human health risks, were detected at the Lister Avenue properties. The sediments of the lower Passaic River and Newark Bay are contaminated with a variety of hazardous substances, including dioxin, PCBs, mercury, DDT, pesticides and heavy metals. The entire Newark Bay region, including the lower Passaic, is under a fish and shellfish consumption advisory due to the contamination over the past 100 years by numerous sources along the river.

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Summary of the Consent Decree

The agreement requires the 70 companies / potentially responsible parties to conduct and pay for the cleanup of approximately 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from a half-mile long area of the lower Passaic River and pay for EPA’s oversight costs of their work. The agreement calls for the parties to remove contaminated sediment from a mud flat area near the north section of Riverside County Park, install a protective cap over the approximately five-acre excavated area and conduct lab tests of sediment treatment technologies. Based on the results, testing of treatment technologies at a larger scale may also be performed. The cap will monitored and maintained to ensure that it remains protective until a final cleanup plan for the lower 17 miles of the Passaic River is selected by the EPA. The excavated material will be disposed of in a licensed, permitted EPA-approved disposal facility if the sediment treatment technologies do not prove effective during testing.

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Contact Information

For more information contact:

Meredith Fishburn
Attorney-Advisor
U.S. EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
MC-2272A
Washington, D.C. 20460
202-564-4790
fishburn.meredith@epa.gov

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