Dioxin: Regulatory Developments

August 22, 2016 | Commercial Litigation | Complex Torts & Product Liability

EPA Proposes $11 Million Cleanup for Standard Chlorine Chemical Site on the Hackensack River

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has proposed a plan to clean up contamination at the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company, Inc. Superfund site in Kearny, New Jersey.

Background

The 25-acre site is part of the New Jersey Meadowlands and on the banks of the Hackensack River.  According to the EPA, past manufacturing operations by various companies led to “extensive contamination of the site” with “a number of hazardous chemicals” including polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”) and dioxin.

The EPA said that the site was used for chemical manufacturing by various companies from the early 1900s to the 1990s. Operations at the site included the refinement of naphthalene for use in the production of certain industrial products, the processing of liquid petroleum naphthalene, the manufacturing of lead-acid batteries and drain-cleaner products, and the packing of dichlorobenzene products. According to the EPA, the soil, groundwater, and two lagoons were contaminated with dioxin, benzene, naphthalene, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds. The site was littered with tanks and drums containing hazardous substances including dioxin and asbestos, the EPA said.

After sampling the site and requiring short-term pollution control measures, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) requested that the EPA add the site to the Superfund list. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in September 2007.

As the EPA pointed out, actions have been taken by parties responsible for the pollution with oversight by the NJDEP and the EPA. Dioxin and asbestos were collected and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste and many of the contaminated buildings on the site were demolished and removed, the EPA said. It added that two contaminated lagoons had been emptied of water, filled with clean material, and covered and that a slurry wall had been installed between the site and the Hackensack River to keep contamination from moving into the river.

A system of pumps is being used to bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be cleaned. Fish consumption warnings have been issued for the Hackensack River.

To date, the EPA said, the cleanup of the site has been conducted and paid for by Apogent Transition Corp., Beazer East, Inc., Cooper Industries, LLC, and Occidental Chemical Corporation with oversight by the EPA. Tierra Solutions, Inc., participated on behalf of Occidental Chemical Corporation, the EPA said.

The EPA Plan

The EPA’s new plan proposes a targeted cap that would extend over the remaining uncovered areas, as well as upgrades to existing covers, to prevent soil disturbance.

Some areas of the site where soil is heavily contaminated already have been covered by a cap to prevent contaminants from spreading, and the EPA’s proposed plan calls for a cap that would extend over all areas not yet covered, as well as upgrades to existing caps.

The EPA’s plan proposes the demolition of five dilapidated buildings remaining on the site and the continuation, maintenance, and operation of all the previous cleanup remedies. The EPA’s plan proposes land use controls such as a deed notice and other controls that would prohibit the use of the groundwater and prohibit using the site for any residential purposes.

The EPA said that it would conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

The EPA estimated that this segment of the cleanup would cost $11 million.

For further information, please contact James V. Aiosa, Paul V. Majkowski, Lawrence S. Han, or your regular Rivkin Radler attorney.

Dioxin – August 2016

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