Deadline approaches for Raritan Bay Superfund site

Deadline approaches for Raritan Bay Superfund site

Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), February 19, 2014
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National Lead, now known as NL Industries, has until Monday to notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it intends to comply with an order to begin the $79 million cleanup of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site.

The EPA order, signed Jan. 30, covers cleanup in three areas that are contaminated with lead: the Laurence Harbor seawall adjacent to Old Bridge Waterfront Park in Old Bridge; another section that includes the western jetty in Sayreville and then from the Cheesequake Creek Inlet into Raritan Bay; and the third section of about 50 acres of Margaret’s Creek.

Mary Mears, an EPA spokeswoman, said the corporation has not responded.

The agency has said the cleanup might take between five and seven years to complete.

Mears said that if NL Industries does not comply with the EPA’s order, the agency can ask the Department of Justice to file a lawsuit to compel compliance and/or seek penalties for any non-compliance.

If NL Industries refuses or fails to do the cleanup and the EPA is forced to fund it, the corporation may face about $237 million in fines or triple the cost of the cleanup.

NL Industries was named by the EPA in 2012 as the only potentially responsible party for the massive cleanup because the lead remains, known as slag, of the smelting process from the company’s former Perth Amboy facility was dumped by a private trucking company at the affected sites from about 1960 to about 1980.

The affected areas were placed on the national list of Superfund sites in 2009 when high levels of lead were found in the bay and surrounding waters in those locations and a large portion of Old Bridge Waterfront Park had to be closed to the public.

“The lead contamination at the Raritan Bay beach and park is a threat to the health of the people who live in this community and it is now time for NL Industries to fulfill its legal responsibility to conduct the cleanup,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck.

“The cleanup will make it possible for children to play at the beach safely and for everyone to enjoy the beach without fear of lead exposure.”

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