Friday, September 16, 2016

Will sediment tests turn this river into a Superfund site?

A federal contractor has finished collecting about 370 samples of sediment from the Hackensack River to determine the extent of pollution in the riverbed and whether it should become a Superfund site.

James M. O'Neill reports for The Record:

The contractor, using a 40-foot barge, gathered core samples from Newark Bay up past the Overpeck Creek for 10 weeks this summer. The data from the samples are just starting to trickle in to federally certified labs, and it's too early to determine what the information will lead to.

"The data is still raw, so we can't draw any conclusions yet," said Michael Sivak, acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency's special projects branch for the region.

Bill Sheehan, the Hackensack Riverkeeper and the one who first petitioned the EPA to consider the Hackensack for Superfund status, said EPA officials have told him that Judith Enck, the EPA administrator for the region, wants to have a decision made one way or another about the Hackensack by year's end, since no matter who wins the presidency, there will be a new administration in the White House in January.

"We're certainly moving forward as quickly as we can, and we know that this project is a priority for many people, including Bill Sheehan and Administrator Enck," Sivak said.

"However, we don't anticipate all the data right away," he said. "We need to validate the data, which can take several weeks, and we expect the information to be coming in through the fall and early winter. We don't have a timetable for a decision, but we are working to do it as soon as possible."

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