The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to spend $19 million to cleanup 30 years of toxins found on a Wall Township site traced to a pair of former dry cleaners, the agency announced.
The EPA has proposed a plan to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater at the White Swan/Sun Cleaners Superfund site in the area of Sea Girt Avenue.
The area was added to the national Superfund list – marking it as one of the most toxic sites in the country -- in 2004 because of chemicals found in the soil and ground water. The EPA has identified contamination extending eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean about a mile wide and two miles long, the agency says.
The former White Swan Cleaners on Sea Girt Avenue and the former Sun Cleaners on the Manasquan Circle operated between 1960 and 1991 and are responsible for releasing decades worth of harmful chemicals in the area, which includes commercial and residential properties in Wall, Manasquan and Sea Girt, the agency says.
“This is an astonishing toxic legacy that the EPA is addressing." EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a release. “Thirty years of operation by local dry cleaning companies have left a toxic contamination that will cost $19 million to address.”
The EPA has scheduled a public meeting to discuss their cleanup plans on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at Wall Township’s municipal hall, 2700 Allaire Road. It’s set to begin at 7 p.m.
The contamination was discovered in 1997 when a resident of Magnolia Avenue in Wall reported to the Monmouth County Health Department high levels of contamination discovered in three private irrigation wells during testing in 1990. The county health department confirmed the contamination and tested four others, finding contamination there as well, according to agency documents.
Soil samples at the two dry cleaners traced the source of the contamination there.
During testing of the two cleaners’ sites, the DEP determined that the air quality of the surrounding area might also be compromised and it began, 1999, to test the air in residences and commercial buildings, DEP documents say.
The agency took 300 air samples from 220 buildings and determined that 27 buildings – 24 homes and 3 businesses – contained air contamination that “pose a lifetime cancer risk.’’ Ventilation systems have been set up in those buildings, the DEP says.
Ground water contamination was found in a Sea Girt municipal well during testing in 1999 and 2000. Contamination was found each time the well was tested. The well served about 1,170 at the time.
Drinking water within the Superfund site’s four-mile radius is obtained from public and private wells screened through the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer System, the water system the DEP calls the “aquifer of concern.”
New Jersey has 113 Superfund sites, more than any state in the country, according to the DEP.
The Bank of America is the current owner of the former White Swan property. The investigation and study of cleanup alternatives was paid for and performed by Bank of America, the EPA says.