The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added the Riverside Industrial Park in Newark, New Jersey to the Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.
After a 2009 spill of oily material from the industrial park into the Passaic River, the EPA discovered that chemicals, including benzene, mercury, chromium and arsenic, were improperly stored at the site. The agency took emergency actions to prevent further release of these chemicals into the river. Further investigation showed that soil, ground water and tanks at the Riverside Industrial Park are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Benzene, mercury, chromium and arsenic are all highly toxic and can cause serious damage to people’s health and the environment. Many volatile organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals and can cause cancer in people. Polychlorinated biphenyls are chemicals that persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.
EPA proposed the site to the Superfund list in September 2012 and encouraged the public to comment during a 60-day public comment period. After considering public comments and receiving the support of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for listing the site, the EPA is putting it on the Superfund list.
“The EPA has kept people out of immediate danger from this contaminated industrial park and can now develop long-term plans to protect the community,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By adding the site to the Superfund list, the EPA can do the extensive investigation needed to determine the best ways to clean up the contamination and protect public health.”
Press Release, May 22, 2013