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Saddle Brook Scrap Metal Site Among Most Toxic Places In New Jersey

Curcio Scrap Metal in Saddle Brook.
Curcio Scrap Metal in Saddle Brook. Photo Credit: Google Maps

New Jersey has more sites than any other state listed on the Superfund National priorities list.

The National Priorities List (NPL) is the list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. It is intended primarily to guide the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation.

Here are the sites located in Bergen and Passaic counties:

Fair Lawn Well Field: Chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and tetrachloroethylene are among the major contaminants to three fields used to supply water to Fair Lawn's 32,000 residents.

The wells in the Westmoreland Field are the most heavily contaminated. Lower levels have also been detected in wells in the Memorial and Cadmus Fields. None of the levels has been high enough to force closing of the wells.

The investigation concluded that the primary source of the contamination was located in the Fair Lawn Industrial Park. As a result of this investigation, two local companies, Thermo Fisher Scientific Company, LLC (Fisher) and Sandvik, Inc. (Sandvik), were identified as contributing sources to the groundwater contamination. The Site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in September 1983.

Garfield Groundwater: . The site consists of the E.C. Electroplating (ECE) property and a chromium groundwater plume that extends a half-mile west from the ECE property to the Passaic River. Site investigations to identify potential sources and determine the extent of contamination and levels of chromium have concluded and EPA has proposed a remedy for the site.

Here's the thing: ECE is no longer in business, so the government has agreed to pay... but there's no money currently in the budget.

Curcio Scrap Metal, Saddle Brook: The Curcio Scrap Metal, Inc. (CSMI) is an active scrap metal yard that contains 10,950 square feet of warehouse and office space. CSMI and Cirello Iron and Steel Company (CISC) recycle scrap iron, copper, aluminum and other ferrous and non-ferrous metals at this active yard. In 1982, CSMI received shipments of 50 electrical transformers. While cutting the transformers, oil containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) spilled on the ground.

Groundwater and soil were also contaminated with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air. Soil cleanup has been completed. Groundwater cleanup is ongoing.

Maywood Chemical Co. (Maywood, Rochelle Park, Lodi): The Maywood Chemical Superfund Site is located on more than 90 properties in Maywood, Lodi and Rochelle Park, Bergen County, about 10 miles west of New York City. From 1916 through 1955, the Maywood Chemical Works processed radioactive thorium ore on site, which resulted in residual radioactive thorium waste.

Other processing activities generated various types of chemical wastes. These waste materials were used as fill on site and at nearby properties, resulting in chemical and radioactive contamination over much of the local area. The site is being cleaned up by two separate entities – the federal government’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Stepan Company, a responsible party.

Quanta Resources, Edgewater: For close to 100 years starting in the late 1800s, coal tar, paving and roofing materials were made at the site by various entities. Quanta Resources operated an oil processing facility there from 1974 to 1981, when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) closed the site after discovering large quantities of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-laden oil in storage tanks.

The site is being addressed in two operable units. Operable Unit 1 (OU1) addresses the land and groundwater, and Operable Unit 2 (OU2) addresses the sediments and the river.

Ringwood Mines/Landfill: The 500-acre Ringwood Mines/Landfill site is located in a historic iron mining district in the borough of Ringwood in Passaic County, New Jersey. Site features include abandoned mine shafts and pits, inactive landfills and open waste dumps.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the 500-acre area was used for the disposal of paint sludge and other wastes generated at the Ford Motor Company's Mahwah facility. Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, site investigations and long-term cleanup activities are ongoing.

Scientific Chemical Processing, Carlstadt: The site includes a six-acre property where a waste processing facility that accepted various wastes for recovery and disposal was located. About 375,000 gallons of hazardous substances were stored on site in tanks, drums and tank trailers.

The facility shut down in 1980 in response to a court order. Some company officials received fines and jail terms for illegally dumping hazardous waste. From 1979 to 1980, drums and contaminated soil were removed. The property is now vacant. A cleanup plan for on-property soil and shallow groundwater has been implemented. Contact with contaminated soil has been prevented and contaminated shallow groundwater has been contained. EPA issued a final cleanup plan to address contaminated deep and off-property groundwater in September 2012 and is overseeing its implementation.

Universal Oil Products, East Rutherford: Various chemicals were manufactured at the 75-acre area from 1932 until 1979, when the company ceased operations and dismantled the plant. The company also recovered solvents and waste chemicals at the site from 1960 through 1979.

About 4.5 million gallons of waste solvents and solid chemical wastes were dumped into two unlined lagoons during this time, which resulted in contamination of soils, surface water and groundwater. After immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, the site’s long-term cleanup is ongoing.

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