EPA Updates NJ Superfund Site Cleanup Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed an update to its original cleanup plan for the Cosden Chemical Coatings Corporation Superfund site in Beverly, New Jersey.
Following a pilot study completed in 2021, the newly proposed cleanup technology will reportedly supplement earlier groundwater treatment by injecting chemical oxidants directly into the aquifer to help break down hazardous contaminants into less toxic byproducts.
Cosden Superfund Site Background
The Cosden Chemical Coatings Corporation began operations in 1945, producing coatings for industrial applications. The formulation and manufacturing company recycled manufacturing solvents in tanks and drums onsite until 1974.
Following a grass fire at the facility in 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection conduction an inspection and reportedly found spills, as well as several hundred unsecured drums.
After sampling the site in 1988, the EPA found the soil to be contaminated with heavy metals (lead and chromium) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The groundwater had also been contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The 6.7-acre site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1987, undertaking removal action to remove and dispose offsite 75 lab pack drums, 300 55-gallon drums, 2,000 gallons of bulk liquids and 350 empty containers ranging in size from five-gallon pails to 55-gallon drums. The company permanently closed in 1989.
In a 1992 Record of Decision, the EPA chose three solutions to deal with hazards that existed above-ground, in the soil and in the groundwater. The remedial action for above-ground structures was initiated in May 1995 and completed in spring 1996, including decontamination, demolition and disposal of all on-site structures, equipment and debris.
Afterwards, soil cleanup began in 1999 and was finished in March 2002, safely removing 10,711 tons of soil, 1,800 tons of debris and 3,000 gallons of liquid waste from the site. The area was then backfilled with clean fill, graded and revegetated.
In 2009, the EPA initiated the long-term treatment of the groundwater by building a groundwater extraction and treatment system (GETS). The GETS is estimated to have treated 282,311,828 gallons of water since its installation, removing approximately 13,000 pounds of total VOCs. The system is reportedly not operating due to the pilot study taking place at the property.
The EPA has completed immediate removal and remediation of above-ground structures and soil contamination and is currently working to remediate groundwater contamination. Three five-year reviews have been completed for the site, with the fourth five-year review expected to be issued in 2027.
In press release from the end of last month, the EPA proposed the new cleanup technique for the superfund site and opened the plan to public comment. The agency reports that in-situ chemical oxidation uses various oxidizing chemicals to spur the reduction of harmful compounds, including VOCs, found in contaminated groundwater.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA successfully demonstrated in-situ chemical oxidation using a network of 30 monitoring wells in 2021. The process could reportedly transform the remaining harmful contaminants at the Cosden site groundwater into less toxic byproducts.
“A full cleanup of the contamination at the Cosden Chemical Coatings Corporation Superfund site is critical to ensuring environmental and public health in Beverly, New Jersey,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia.
“Carried out by EPA, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the successful pilot study demonstrated a unique ability to address the remaining groundwater contaminants at this site, and EPA is committed to employing all available technologies to get the job done.”
According to the release, the method supplements the EPA’s earlier groundwater pumping and treatment work which has treated over 280 million gallons of water since 2009. Additionally, it offers long-term monitoring to ensure the cleanup is working as intended and other controls to prevent exposure to the hazards. The agency also plans to conduct additional sampling on and off the Cosden property for emerging contaminants, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The EPA reports that the NJDEP concurs with its preferred alternative as presented in the plan.
The 30-day public comment period will close Aug. 29. A virtual public meeting will also be held on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. Interested parties can register here.
Recent EPA Superfund Work
In October last year, the EPA announced that it has finalized its plan for the next phase of cleanup of the Sherwin-Williams Superfund Site in New Jersey. The plan, which was first proposed in April, requires dredging of contaminated sediments and capping of floodplain soil in bodies of water in Vorhees, Lindenwold and Gibbsboro municipalities.
The EPA reports that contaminants from the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliard Creek Site, the Route 561 Dump Site and the United States Avenue Burn Site have moved downstream to Kirkwood Lake, Silver Lake, Bridgewood Lake and Hilliards Creek.
According to its press release, the EPA will oversee the construction of a system to temporarily divert streams during the dredging of 128,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Silver Lake, Bridgewood Lake, Kirkwood Lake and Hilliards Creek.
Under the plan, 42,000 cubic yards of the two top feet of soil located within the floodplains will also be removed and capped, including treatment, transport and disposal of excavated sediment and soil off-site at a permitted facility.
The EPA will also put institutional controls in the form of deed restrictions into place and conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup. The estimated cost of the waterbody cleanup is reportedly approximately $90 million.
Earlier this year, the agency announced that it had reached an agreement with Honeywell International, Inc. and the City of South Bend to oversee the cleanup of portions of Lasalle Park and two nearby residential yards at the Beck’s Lake Superfund site.
According to the EPA, soil sampling taken at the sites exceeds lead levels outlined by the Agency’s residential soil Removal Management Level of 400 parts per million. RMLs help identify areas, contaminants and conditions where cleanup may be needed to protect human health and the environment.
At Lasalle Park, which includes Beck’s Lake, a community center and recreational areas, cleanup crews will excavate soil from areas with contamination above the RML and backfill areas with clean soil. In addition, crews will also cap the remediated areas with one to two feet of additional clean soil.
At the two nearby residential properties, sections with contaminated soil above the RML will be excavated to a depth of two feet below ground and backfilled with clean soil. For all sites—totaling nearly 45 acres—the EPA has included a specific health and safety plan to ensure the safety of the local community and workers during the cleanup.
Cleanup efforts are slated to take place this spring and reach completion by the fall.