Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sussex County, NJ dump site proposed for Superfund list

The Mansfield Trail Dump Site in Byram Township, NJ has been proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA) for addition to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

The Sussex site is one of nine of the latest hazardous waste sites found that pose risks to human health and the environment to the general Superfund section of the National Priorities List.  Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.

“EPA is proposing to add this site to the Superfund list so we can fully address any contamination in this community, especially the toxic air contaminants that are seeping into some homes through their foundations,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By listing the site, EPA can do the extensive sampling needed to determine the best ways to address the contamination and protect people’s health.”

An EPA news release explains that:

Sampling has shown that chemical contamination in a wooded area where waste was dumped in trenches is affecting a number of nearby homes. Chemical vapors from contaminated soil underneath some area homes have been found in some basements. Exposure to the contaminants found at the site can have serious health impacts, damage the liver, impair the nervous system or increase the risk of cancer.

Sampling by the Sussex County Department of Health in 2005 identified trichloroethylene (TCE), an organic solvent used in industrial processes, in residential drinking water wells along Brookwood and Ross Roads in Byram Township. To protect public health, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) installed carbon water filtration and treatment systems in 16 homes to remove contaminants from their drinking water. In addition, NJDEP installed systems to reduce the intrusion of chemical vapors into the basements of five of the homes that tested positive for air pollutants.

In an effort to identify the source of the contamination, NJDEP identified and investigated four areas in a wooded section near the Mansfield bike path, and found evidence of TCE contamination in two of them. Sludge of unknown origin had been deposited in trenches in the area. Sampling and analysis conducted by NJDEP in 2009 indicated the presence of TCE in two areas above state screening levels. Other volatile organic compounds, a group of pollutants common in household and industrial products, and various chlorinated benzene compounds, have also been detected.

Furthering the investigation, NJDEP collected gas samples from the soil underneath people’s basements as well as inside the basements throughout the affected neighborhood. The results varied, with some homes showing TCE concentrations above state screening levels in just the samples from underneath the basements and some homes showing TCE concentrations above screening levels both in the basements and underneath them.

After receiving a letter from the New Jersey government supporting the inclusion of the Mansfield site on the Superfund list, EPA has determined that a listing offers the best course of action to protect human health and clean up the contamination. EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups.
General information on the Superfund cleanup process
Information on the EPA's  60-day public comment period can be found here.

**Post updated at 3:49 p.m. on 10/20/10 to add news story below**


‘Denny's Dump' in Byram could be added to Superfund list
Byram homes to become Superfund site 

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