Remediation Option Finalized for Lower Passaic River
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final Record of Decision for the Christie Administration’s selected remediation plan for the Lower Passaic River.
The DEP issued a letter of concurrence to EPA last week, calling for the engineered, bank-to-bank capping of the lower 8.3 miles of the river, and the dredging of approximately 3.5 million cubic yards of material to prevent flooding and enable future navigational use of the lower 1.7 miles of the river.
Additionally, none of the dredged material will be disposed in local landfills or in Newark Bay.
The material will be taken to out-of-state treatment facilities or landfills. The Christie Administration’s position has been that off-site disposal is the only viable option, so that the dredged, contaminated sediment is permanently removed from the community and properly secured in an appropriate facility.
The EPA’s announcement of the proposed remedy in April, 2014 came after years of study by EPA and its contractors, as well as detailed peer review by the EPA’s Contaminated Sediments Technical Advisory Group and its National Remedy Review Board, plus an independent team of modeling experts.
The final Record of Decision was reached after EPA’s public comment process, which included public hearings on the proposed remedy. Throughout the process, which included the development of a Focused Feasibility Study for the lower eight miles of the Passaic River, DEP worked closely with EPA to advance the project.
With the Record of Decision finalized, EPA will next seek funding for the implementation of the preferred remedy from the companies it deems responsible for the contamination.
New Jersey’s selected cleanup remedy is based on the belief that the remedial action for the Passaic River must:
- Remove and cap contaminated sediment to reduce the ongoing threat to human health and the environment;
- Stop the uncontrolled release and movement of contaminated sediments into Newark Bay and other parts of the estuary;
- Be consistent with reasonable long-term future uses of the Passaic River and adjacent areas, particularly its use as a navigable waterway;
- Remove and treat contaminated sediments consistent with the state’s preference for out-of-state disposal to permanently and significantly reduce volume, toxicity and mobility of hazardous substances;
- Provide for management of the waste in a manner that will not add further burden to the surrounding communities’ existing environmental issues.