NJDEP Urges EPA to List Lower Hackensack River as Superfund Site

Posted on 8/10/2021 by Lauren Scott

In an effort to resume plans to list Lower Hackensack River as a Federal Superfund site, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) sent a letter to US EPA urging the agency to continue its investigation of the river. The 23-mile section from Oradell Dam to Newark Bay would be the first NJ river to receive the designation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Discussions between NJDEP and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add the NYC-adjacent river began in 2015. EPA completed an Expanded Site Inspection in 2017, which confirmed high levels of contamination were present. DEP later completed its own separate extensive evaluations. However, EPA records show its investigation quietly came to a halt in May 2017.

NJDEP’s most recent announcement signals that the State and Federal environmental agencies will reignite momentum to remediate and restore the watershed. EPA is currently assessing the Lower Hackensack River for inclusion in the National Priorities List (NPL). This process is expected to take about a year, given the need to collect more recent samples and analyze data.
Lion’s Superfund and Right-to-Know Act Online Course helps you navigate the regulations for facilities subject to EPCRA and CERCLA programs.

Industrial Activity Along the Watershed

Experts believe past industrial practices at four current Superfund sites polluted the river, which is now contaminated by mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, among other hazardous chemicals.

The four current Superfund sites along the Hackensack River area are the Ventron/Velsicol site in Carlstadt and Wood-Ridge, Universal Oil Products (Chemical Division) in East Rutherford, Standard Chlorine in Kearny, and Scientific Chemical Processing in Carlstadt.

EPA has been working on long-term remediation of these Superfund sites in the watershed to protect local waterways, groundwater, and natural resources. But over the decades, tidal actions have distributed pollutants that were discharged from these sites and other contaminated sites extensively throughout the Lower Hackensack River, prompting numerous studies into restoration.

HAZWOPER Training – Anytime, Anywhere

Site workers at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites are required by OSHA to undergo Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training.

Prepare cleanup personnel with the 40 Hour HAZWOPER Initial Contaminated Site Cleanup online training. This course is specially designed for general workers such as equipment operators, laborers, and supervisors who need initial site cleanup training with the flexibility to start, pause, and complete the course at their own pace, wherever they are.

Need training for "occasional site workers" or hazmat emergency responders? Check out Lion’s full suite of HAZWOPER training here.

Tags: CERCLA, environmental, EPA, NJ, Superfund

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