Environmental Protection

EPA Adds 3 Sites to Superfund's National Priorities List

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adding three new hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. The three sites are Raritan Bay Slag (Old Bridge Township/Sayreville, N.J.); U.S. Magnesium (Tooele County, Utah); and Peck Iron and Metal (Portsmouth, Va.).

For Raritan Bay Slag, the contaminant of concern is lead. In September 1972, a local government official advised the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) that lead-bearing waste material was being disposed of along the Laurence Harbor beachfront on Raritan Bay. NL Industries, Inc. acknowledged that metallic slag waste from blast furnace and blast furnace rubble were disposed of at their property in Old Bridge Township. Old Bridge officials worked with NJDEP to notify the public in writing about health concerns for the lead waste material and restricted access by means of signage and some fencing. However, due to physical constraints, it was not practical to completely fence off contaminated areas.

Analytical results from sampling in 2007 found lead at concentrations as high as 142,000 parts per million at the jetty and seawall. Lead–contaminated slag, associated with the western jetty of the Cheesequake Creek Inlet and the Laurence Harbor Seawall, was observed to be in direct contact with the Raritan Bay. The Raritan Bay is a fishery and a sensitive environment (as identified under the National Estuary Program and a state-designated water body for the maintenance of aquatic life).

In September 2008, EPA collected surface and subsurface soil, surface water, and sediment samples in the area of the seawall and the jetty. Waste (i.e., slag) samples were also collected from the slag that forms portions of the seawall and jetty. Analytical data from this investigation is pending.

At U.S. Magnesium, the site has produced magnesium since 1972. It uses brine from the Great Salt Lake as the raw material and generates a variety of wastes. The facility currently has active and inactive portions. The current owner/operators are U.S. Magnesium LLC and parent company Renco Group, Inc.

Contaminants include: metals (arsenic, chromium, mercury, copper, and zinc), acidic wastewater, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and chlorine gas. These wastes are being released into the air, soil, surface water, and ground water.

Risk assessments show environmental and human health risks. The site is adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, an ecosystem that attracts millions of birds per year and houses many unique plants and animals of federal and state concern. Observations indicate mortality to waterfowl from the contamination, and bird egg studies have documented concentrations of PCB and HCB in eggs at or near the site. Additionally, approximately 20 years ago, the lake level rose and flooded the site, causing contaminants to travel into the Great Salt Lake. Dioxins and HCB are present at levels potentially posing both cancer and non-cancer (diabetes and immune system) risks to industrial workers. Blood testing of workers in 2002 and in 2004 found elevated levels of dioxin and HCB as compared to the general U.S. population.

There have been no response activities to date at U.S. Magnesium. EPA and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality have been involved with matters related to environmental contamination by wastes at this site for more than 15 years.

From 1945 to 1999, Peck Iron purchased, processed, stored, and shipped metal scrap from various military bases; other federal, state, and local government agencies; and local businesses. Scrap metal handled at the facility included damaged and obsolete equipment, attachments, parts, and other miscellaneous materials, including scrapped naval vessels. Some of these scrap materials contained cadmium (automobile parts), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) (insulated wire, gaskets, fluorescent lights and transformer oils) and lead (scrapped bridge sections and automobile batteries). PCB-containing transformers were disassembled at the facility and the wires were burned to remove insulation.

The primary contaminants are PCBs and lead, which have been detected in a wetland on the southwest border of facility and the bank of Paradise Creek. A tidal estuary of the lower Chesapeake Bay, Paradise Creek is a human food chain fishery and is used for recreation activities, including swimming, boating, crabbing and fishing.

Between approximately 2004 and 2007, the current owner of the facility conducted a study to determine the extent of the contamination on the facility and in the Paradise Creek wetland.

With all Superfund sites, EPA tries to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination. For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting significant cleanup at the site. Therefore, it may be several years before significant cleanup funding is required for these sites.

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for these final and proposed sites: www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/newfin.htm.

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