The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposed plan to clean up soil at the Ellis Property Superfund site in Evesham Township, New Jersey that is contaminated with tetrachloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds that are polluting ground water underlying the site.
While the contaminated ground water is not currently being used as a source of drinking water, ground water at the site has historically served as a drinking water source and a source for irrigation of farmland nearby.
Exposure to tetrachloroethylene can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer.
The EPA will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan and receive comments from the public on July 24, 2013.
“Clean drinking water is a top priority for the EPA. By reducing toxic chemicals in the soil, the EPA will be protecting people’s health and the environment by preventing these chemicals from polluting ground water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This plan ensures a thorough cleanup. The EPA encourages public input on the proposed plan.”
In this proposed second and final phase of the cleanup, the EPA will excavate 67,500 cubic yards of soil. Clean soil would be used as backfill and contaminated soils would be disposed of at an EPA-approved disposal facility.
Although ground water levels are expected to reach cleanup goals soon after the contaminated soil is removed, the ground water treatment system will be kept in place for approximately one more year to further reduce ground water contaminants. The EPA will conduct quarterly ground water monitoring for the first year following this cleanup, followed by annual ground water monitoring for the next nine years.
The EPA is requesting public comments on the proposed plan and will hold a public meeting on July 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm, in the Municipal Courtroom at the Evesham Township Municipal Building at 984 Tuckerton Road, Marlton, New Jersey. Comments will be accepted until August 9, 2013.
The Ellis property was purchased by Irving Ellis in 1968, who used the site for the reconditioning of storage drums until the late 1970’s. These operations are believed to have resulted in spills of solvents and metals, which contaminated soil and ground water at the site. In 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection discovered numerous corroded and leaking drums. In 1983, the DEP removed over 100 drums and contaminated surface soil from the site. In 1989, the EPA disposed of over 200 additional drums that had been buried in the soil, and added the site to the Superfund list the following year.
In 1992, the EPA issued its first cleanup plan for the site. During this cleanup, contaminated soil was removed, and a system to extract and treat contaminated ground water was constructed. Tests performed in 2006 and 2007 revealed continued tetrachloroethylene contamination in soil below the water table. Despite the ongoing operation of the ground water treatment system at the site, tetrachloroethylene from the soil continues to contaminate the ground water.
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. In this instance, the EPA was unable to identify a viable party to pay the cleanup costs. The EPA estimates the cost of this cleanup will be $13.6 million.
Press Release, July 12, 2013