Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sandy's environmental damage could have been worse

Ventron/Velsicol Superfund site - EPA file photo
The (Bergen) Record reports today that while the environmental damage brought about by superstorm Sandy is significant, it could have been much worse: Officials said Sandy did not cause any major disruption at the region's worst toxic sites, even the ones that were in the path of the storm's record tidal surge.
"The integrity of the sites doesn't seem to be compromised," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "We were out on the ground with the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] right after the storm, and everything we checked out seems to be fine."
In a heavily developed region dotted with toxic sites -- 2,835 in Bergen County and 1,394 in Passaic County -- flooding tends to bring a barrage of pollution within close proximity to residents. Superfund sites -- the worst toxic sites in the United States -- present the biggest because they contain deadlier pollution.
Despite the powerful storm surge, federal environmental officials said contamination did not seep from 11 active Superfund sites in Bergen and Passaic that are in various stages of cleanup.But in the storm's aftermath, testing has been done at only one Superfund site in New Jersey.
And while some outside of government agree that there may not be an immediate public health threat, they are skeptical that pollution stayed in place considering that toxic substances have often migrated from some sites under normal conditions. For instance, mercury has trickled from the Ventron/Velsicol site in Wood-Ridge into Berry's Creek for decades. Likewise, coal tar and arsenic have leached from the Quanta Resources Superfund site in Edgewater into the Hudson River.
View the entire story here
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