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EPA Releases Final Plan For Wall Township Superfund Site

Former site of two dry cleaners one of the most polluted in the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced its final $19 million plan to cleanup the toxic Superfund site created by a pair of dry cleaners operating near the boundaries of Wall Township, Manasquan and Sea Girt.

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 EPA says.

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.

“This is an astonishing toxic legacy that the EPA is addressing."  EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck has said. “Thirty years of operation by local dry cleaning companies have left a toxic contamination that will cost $19 million to address.”

No timeline was given Thursday for the start of the cleanup.

The EPA says it will dig up about 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil at the former White Swan property. The soil will be disposed of at a facility licensed to receive the waste. The excavated area will then be filled with clean soil, the EPA said in a release.

At the former Sun Cleaners property, a soil vapor extraction treatment system will be used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil by extracting them in vapor form with a vacuum and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants, the EPA says.

Additionally, at the Sun Cleaners property, a technology called air sparging will be used to reduce the contamination in the shallow ground water. Air sparging is the process of injecting air directly into the contaminated ground water. As the air bubbles rise, the contaminants are carried up into the soil and removed by a system that collects the vapors. This process will not pollute local air, the EPA says.

In the areas with the highest levels of ground water contamination, ground water will be pumped to a treatment plant where it will be cleaned using air stripping and activated carbon. Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed to ensure that the technology is fully effective.

The EPA also will allow natural processes to reduce the level of contamination in some areas to meet ground water standards. The EPA will require periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the levels and extent of the contaminants are declining, the release says. 

The program to sample indoor air quality at nearby residential and commercial properties will continue and, if elevated levels are found, vapor mitigation systems will be installed to address the problem, the EPA says.

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.

Jennifer P November 02, 2013 at 10:33 AM
This is just so disheartening.... Am I reading this correctly? Is the DEP stating that our drinking water is NOT safe? from the looks of one of the last paragraphs, it looks like they are not impressed with it's safety.

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