Sherwin-Williams Superfund Cleanup Set


NEW YORK, NY—Neighbors of a Superfund site that long housed Sherwin-Williams paint manufacturing activities are in line for a $14 million cleanup, under a plan just announced by federal authorities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a Proposed Plan to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater beneath the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek manufacturing site in Gibbsboro and Voorhees, NJ.

The SH/HC property is one of three that make up the Sherwin-Williams' Superfund site in the region; the property was originally owned by Lucas Paint Works. Hilliards Creek flows through the site and into a lake called Kirkwood Lake.

What Lies Beneath

The old plant's soil and groundwater are contaminated with lead, arsenic and volatile organic compounds; the sediment in and near the creek contains lead and arsensic, according to the EPA.

The manufacturing site dates to the 19th century, and paint making began in the mid-1800s. John Lucas and Company produced the first chrome greens and chrome yellows made in America, the EPA said.

White lead was ground on the site, and the plant eventually produced 24 varieties of varnish as well as a variety of toxic pigments, according to the EPA's Site Description.

National Gallery of Art

White lead (pictured) was ground on the Sherwin-Williams site for decades. Lead in residential paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, a year after the Sherwin-Williams plant closed.

Raw materials were mixed and processed in multiple buildings throughout the site, and nearly 200,000 gallons of naphtha, xylene, mineral spirits, toluene, solvent blends and aromatic naptha were stored there.

The operation included 20-foot-deep lagoons for wastewater and paint sludge; above-ground tank farms; a railroad line and spur; drum storage areas; and large-scale manufacturing operations.

From the mid-1800s until 1977, the EPA said, the owners discharged materials from the lagoons directly into the creek; improperly stored and handled materials, leading to spills and releases; and allowed leaking tanks that resulted in "widespread contamination" involving "high levels of various contaminants."

Sherwin-Williams bought Lucas in the 1930s and expanded operations at the site.

The facility was closed in 1977 and sold to a developer in 1981.

1 Site, 3 Parcels

The three parcels that make up the Sherwin-Williams Sites are:

The Dump Site was added to the Superfund list in 1998; the Burn Site, in 1999; and the paint plant, in 2008. Although the site originally operated as a sawmill and then a grain mill, the Superfund issues stem entirely from the historical paint operations, the EPA notes.

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Neighbors of the old Sherwin-Williams plant site in Voorhees, NJ, picketed in April at a company paint store over the lack of a cleanup plan for the lake that is part of the Superfund site.

Because of the multiple sites, histories and current land uses, the EPA is addressing the cleanup in several phases. The new proposed plan is the first one.

Sherwin-Williams' Role

Since the facility closed, contaminated soils and sediments have migrated onto grounds that now hold residential properties, state and federal authorities report.

Some internal cleanup has occurred. Sludge has been removed, Soil Vapor Extraction and Free Product Recovery systems have been installed, and the area has been fenced.

The site has been operating under a 1999 Administrative Order of Consent. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) had several AOCs with Sherwin-Williams dating back to the 1970s.

NJDEP discovered the contamination of the Dump Site and Burn Site while investigating the manufacturing site. Sludge was up to five feet deep at the bottom of the pit when the discovery was made, authorities said.

Jurisdiction for the cleanup passed to the EPA in 2001. Since 2005, under EPA's oversight, Sherwin-Williams has conducted remedial investigation field sampling and related activities to evaluate the nature and extent of the contamination.

However, the EPA developed the cleanup plan announced this week.

More Cleanup Likely

The initial work will involve remediation on about 33 homes in the area, the EPA said. The soil will be excavated and disposed of at licensed facilities. The excavations will then be backfilled, replanted and restored.


Although the plant began as a sawmill, then became a grain mill, the contamination came entirely from its paint-producing years, the EPA said.

Authorities have completed evaluations on about 55 homes in all—primarily, properties adjacent to the site and those exposed to flooding and surface water runoff from it.

The EPA notes that multiple cleanups throughout the properties will be moving forward at the same time.

Comments Invited

The EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed plan through July 2. Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:

Ray Klimcsak, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. EPA, 290 Broadway 19th Floor
New York, New York, 10007-1866

Questions about the soil cleanup or sampling of nearby properties may be directed to Pat Seppi, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, at 212.637.3679 or by email.

A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 11 in Gibbsboro to discuss the plan and accept oral and writen comments. Meeting details are available here.

The EPA also offers emailed updates on this cleanup. Click here to join the email list for the Sherwin-Williams cleanup.


Tagged categories: Cleanup; Coatings manufacturers; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Government; Hazardous waste; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; Paint disposal; Sherwin-Williams

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