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EPA Proposes Plan to Address Contaminated Soils and Ground Water at Maywood Chemical Company Superfund Site in Maywood and Rochelle Park, New Jersey; Cleanup Estimated to Cost $17 Million; Plan Will Address Contamination at Former Maywood Chemical Works

Release Date: 08/23/2013
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to address contaminated soil at the Maywood Chemical Company Superfund site in Maywood and Rochelle Park, New Jersey. Previous industrial activity at the site resulted in contamination of the soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds, radioactive waste and metals. Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increase the risk of cancer. The EPA proposal calls for a combination of removing and treating contaminated soil.

      "The cleanup plan proposed by EPA will address the contaminated soil and reduce the risk posed by the contamination to people’s health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA encourages the public to attend the Maywood Chemical Company Superfund site meeting and share their views on the proposed plan.”

      The EPA will hold a public meeting on September 9, 2013, to explain the proposed plan and is encouraging public comments. The meeting will be held at the Maywood Public Library, Trinka Hall (lower level) at 459 Maywood Avenue, Maywood, New Jersey, from 7:00-9:00pm. Comments will be accepted until September 23, 2013.

      Operations at the former Maywood Chemical Works began in 1895 and from 1916 to 1955 included thorium processing, which produced radioactive waste. Other manufacturing activities generated various types of chemical and radiological wastes. These waste materials were used as fill on the former Maywood Chemical Works property and at nearby properties. The site is being addressed jointly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Stepan Company, which currently owns and operates a manufacturing facility at the site. The EPA is overseeing the work.

      Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the cleanup work was divided into several phases. Under previous cleanup plans, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to address radioactive contamination on more than 88 parcels and radioactive and chemical contamination on an 11-acre government-owned parcel at the site. To date, more than 575,000 cubic yards of radioactively-contaminated material has been removed from the site, significantly reducing the potential for exposure to contamination. Over 60 residential properties, 20 commercial properties, three parks and a local fire station have been cleaned up. Radiological soil cleanup work is ongoing at several commercial properties. The Army Corps is currently designing the groundwater remedy for contaminated groundwater associated with the government-owned property.

      Stepan Company is responsible for non-radioactive chemical contamination in soil and groundwater on the former Maywood Chemical Works properties. The EPA’s plan announced today addresses soil that is believed to be a source of ground water contamination for which Stepan Company is responsible.

      Under the EPA’s proposed plan, contaminated soil will be dug up and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste. Buried containers will be removed. Excavated areas will then be filled with clean soil and restored. In one of the contaminated areas, the EPA proposed plan calls for removal of harmful chemicals from the soil by extracting them in vapor form with a vacuum and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants. The EPA will first oversee a study to confirm that this treatment is effective. The proposed plan also calls for two small areas of wetlands with a total area of one and a half acres to be drained to remove the contaminated soil. The water will be pumped from the sediment and treated before being discharged. The wetland areas will be restored with vegetation and soil having properties similar to the existing wetlands.

      In some areas where contamination remains in place, the EPA plan will prohibit activities that could disturb the site and allow potential exposure to the contamination in the future. The EPA is also requiring periodic review and evaluation of the work to verify that the actions taken continue to protect people’s health and the environment.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. In this instance, the site is partially being addressed by the federal government under a program to cleanup radioactive contamination at sites across the country, called Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). A portion of the site, which is the subject of today’s proposed plan, is being addressed by the Stepan Company.

      Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:
      Betsy Donovan
      Remedial Project Manager
      290 Broadway, 19th Floor
      New York, New York 10007-1866
      (212) 637-4369
      donovan.betsy@epa.gov