EPA Announces Cleanup Plan for Quanta Resources Superfund Site in Edgewater, N.J.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a plan to contain and control soil and ground water contamination at the Quanta Resources Superfund Site in Edgewater, N.J., which is located along the Hudson River. Soil and ground water underneath the site and adjacent properties are contaminated with arsenic, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds resulting from over 100 years of past industrial activities in the area. Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increase the risk of cancer. Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the 15-acre site, EPA divided the investigation and cleanup into two phases – one addressing the contaminated soil and ground water and the other focused on contamination in the river. The final plan announced today is the first phase of the long-term cleanup. A future cleanup plan will address contamination in the Hudson River.

The plan to address the contaminated soil and ground water was proposed in July 2010. To encourage public participation, EPA held a public comment period that ran over 60 days, conducted two public meetings and carefully reviewed input from over 70 interested individuals or parties.

The site contains an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil requiring treatment to protect people that may come into contact with it. EPA will solidify and stabilize areas of soil contaminated with oily liquid and arsenic by turning them into leak-proof blocks underground. The process will be done in several steps. It will begin with the clearing of vegetation and debris from the surface, and the removal of approximately the first four feet of the surface soil. This material will be sent off-site for disposal at a licensed facility. EPA will treat the toxic pollutants further underground by mixing the soil with cementing materials that will harden in place. The process is similar to making concrete. Clean material will be put on top of these solid blocks.

Ground water from the site flows to the surface water of the Hudson River. EPA will remove pollutants from the ground water by installing an underground barrier system that will allow the ground water to flow naturally through a special material capable of removing contaminants. The ground water barrier will be monitored and deed restrictions will be put in place to restrict the use of ground water from the site and other activities. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring, testing and further studies will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy.

Some of the areas of soil contaminated by oily liquid are under buildings on a neighboring property, 115 River Road. These buildings, which are currently occupied by a number of small businesses, will remain in place in the short-term and the contaminated material beneath them will be managed in place. EPA has determined that there is not an immediate need to demolish the buildings. A system to keep potentially harmful vapors from the contaminated soil and ground water from entering the buildings will be installed. This is a precaution since periodic indoor air testing at these buildings since 2002 shows that exposure to vapors is not currently occurring. In addition, a barrier wall will be installed to isolate the pollutants underneath the buildings and keep them from seeping into the Hudson River. The contaminants under the buildings will be treated by a solidification and stabilization method when this property is eventually redeveloped.

Sediment near the site in the Hudson River also contains elevated levels of arsenic, lead, poly aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and oily liquids. EPA is completing separate studies of the Hudson River contamination that will lead to a second and final cleanup plan for the site.

The Quanta site, located on River Road at the intersection of Gorge Road in Edgewater, was built as a coal tar facility beginning in the 1880s. In the 1970s, the site’s “tank farm” was used to store waste oil prior to reprocessing. The state of New Jersey closed the facility down in 1981 when some storage tanks were found to contain waste oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls. Between 1985 and 1992, EPA supervised a series of emergency actions at the site that included safely removing and disposing of millions of gallons of waste oil, sludge and contaminated water from the tanks, and cleaning and dismantling the emptied storage tanks and piping. Subsequent sampling at the site revealed the presence of residual contamination in the soil, ground water and sediment that pose a long term risk to human health and the environment. Today the site is surrounded by a thriving waterfront community of businesses, apartment buildings and major roadways. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in September 2002.