U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for directing NL Industries to conduct a $79 million cleanup at the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site in Old Bridge and Sayreville.
Soil and sediment at the site were found to be contaminated with lead-containing waste that was used to construct a seawall and jetty at the popular beach.
“I have long been a supporter of the Superfund program and am pleased to see the EPA is acting aggressively to protect these communities,” said Sen. Menendez. “It is imperative that polluters are held accountable for the environmental damage they have caused, that the contaminated sites are properly cleaned up, and that the health and well-being of New Jersey residents are protected.”
The EPA identified NL Industries as a party responsible for the cost of cleanup after historical documents provided evidence that at least some if not all of the slag found at the site came from the former National Lead Company (now NL Industries) facility in Perth Amboy, NJ which was in operation approximately 40 years ago.
“I am glad to hear that the EPA is working to hold the responsible party, NL Industries, accountable for the cleanup of lead contamination at the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site,” said Rep. Pallone. “The planned $79 million cleanup is great news for public health, the community, and the environment. Cleaning this site will be a positive force for the local economy, creating jobs and, once finished, yielding a safe public park and beach for all to enjoy, without having to worry about potential health risks. I commend EPA for their hard work on this site.”
In April, 2009, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone joined the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in a letter to then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to aggressively pursue cleanup cost recovery from all parties that have contributed to this extensive contamination.
The cleanup of the Raritan Bay Slag site will be conducted in three areas contaminated with lead-containing materials, including lead slag, a byproduct of metal smelting. One sector includes the Laurence Harbor seawall adjacent to the Old Bridge Waterfront Park in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge Township. Another section consists of the western jetty in Sayreville and extends from the Cheesequake Creek Inlet into Raritan Bay. The remaining section is approximately 50 acres of Margaret’s Creek and has elevated lead levels along with areas of slag and battery casings. For both the Laurence Harbor seawall and the western jetty sectors, contaminated soil, sediment and waste including slag and battery casings will be dug up or dredged, and the material will be disposed of at permitted disposal facilities out of the area. Excavated areas will be restored with clean material.
Within the Margaret’s Creek section, EPA will require the removal of slag and battery casings, along with areas of contaminated soil associated with these materials. Clean material will be placed as needed in the excavated areas. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring and testing will be conducted to ensure that public health and the environment are protected and the community will be kept informed about activities and progress. The EPA has worked closely with the Community Advisory Group for the site throughout the investigation and cleanup. Cleanup activities conducted at the site will be done under EPA oversight.
The EPA finalized its plan in May, 2013 to clean up lead contamination at the Raritan Bay site and today’s order requires NL Industries to implement that plan. The directive requires the removal of lead-contaminated material and its replacement with clean material in order to reduce the risk to those who use the beach, particularly children.
According to the EPA, lead is a toxic metal that is especially dangerous to children because their growing bodies can absorb more of it than adults. Lead in children can result in I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavioral disorders.
The Superfund program is the federal government’s commitment to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites and hold the responsible parties accountable. It allows the EPA to force polluters to clean up the site and protects taxpayers by seeking reimbursement for cleanups performed by the EPA.
Press Release, January 31, 2014