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WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone announced today that EPA will take over completing the design plans for the Seawall Sector of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site in Old Bridge Township and Sayreville, New Jersey. After reviewing the most recent draft of the design plan prepared by NL Industries (NL), a potentially responsible party (PRP) for the site, EPA determined the design plans continue to have significant technical issues and concerns, despite EPA’s oversight and detailed input. By taking over the work, EPA will ensure the design is completed in a technically sound manner that will lead to a successful cleanup of the Seawall Sector.
“Today’s action will allow us to move forward quickly and effectively for this Superfund site community,” said Administrator Regan. “I appreciate Congressman Pallone’s dedication to environmental protection and to our Superfund program. EPA’s Superfund program is about protecting people’s health. We must address the high lead levels that are the legacy of using slag to build walls and jetties; and we must not lose sight of the fact that this critical work impacts the availability of a treasured local resource – the beach.”
“I’m proud to announce today that EPA now has a plan to take over the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site, which will ensure it is properly cleaned up and that the surrounding communities have the peace of mind they deserve. This is a big day for the Old Bridge community, which will ultimately be able to use the space without fear of the health risks that come with living near a Superfund site,” said Congressman Pallone. “I’m grateful for Administrator Regan’s leadership and for taking the time to come to New Jersey today to see firsthand what’s at stake for our state as we continue to push for Superfund site cleanup. New Jersey’s ongoing challenges with Superfund cleanups is exactly why I pressed hard for the inclusion of my Superfund Polluter Pays Act in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I’m pleased that it would reinstate the Polluter Pays tax for many of the worst polluters, which is a historic step in the right direction. I know taxpayers are tired of footing the bill for cleanups, and I’ll continue to fight to ensure that corporate polluters are held accountable for the contamination they create.”
EPA issued a cleanup plan for the site in a May 2013 document called a Record of Decision (ROD). The cleanup plan calls for excavating or removing and dredging contaminated material. The site includes three sectors — the Margaret’s Creek Sector; the Seawall Sector; and the Jetty Sector.
EPA completed the Margaret’s Creek Sector cleanup in September 2018. The cleanup, which included removing approximately 15,775 tons of soil and 1,802 tons of slag from that portion of the site, cost about $7 million. Throughout the cleanup of the Margaret’s Creek Sector, and consistent with the goal of having polluters pay for cleanup, EPA negotiated with NL and the other PRPs to conduct the remaining work at the site. NL has been working to complete the engineering design work for the Seawall Sector since late 2019 under an administrative order issued by EPA. However, EPA has significant concerns with the engineering plans prepared by NL. EPA has concluded that it can develop a design plan that meets EPA’s requirements in less time by doing the work directly rather than continuing to oversee NL’s work. In addition, EPA has started design work for the Jetty Sector of the site and will begin cleanup work there once work at the Seawall Sector is complete.
The Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site is on the southern shore of Raritan Bay. The site consists of the Seawall Sector, which contains a seawall about 2,300 feet long in Old Bridge Township, NJ; the Margaret’s Creek Sector, which consists of a 47-acre wetland located immediately east of the Seawall Sector; and the Jetty Sector, which consists of the approximately 750-foot-long western jetty, located nearly a mile west of the seawall in adjacent Sayreville, New Jersey.
The primary sources of contamination at the site are slag and battery casings. The seawall and the western jetty were constructed using slag from blast furnace bottoms from secondary smelting operations in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Battery casings were also deposited at the site, particularly in the Margaret’s Creek Sector. The slag and battery casings resulted in high levels of lead contamination, including along the seawall and in the sand of a recreational beach immediately west of the seawall which resulted in the closure of a significant portion of a recreational beach area.
With EPA’s assistance, a Community Advisory Group (CAG) was formed for the site in June 2010. The CAG is comprised of members from the local community and includes residents directly impacted by the site, local public interest groups, and government units. The CAG reviews technical information and meets with EPA regularly.
For the latest information about Raritan Bay Superfund Site in Old Bridge, visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/raritan-bay-slag
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