Glouco leaders resist EPA plan

Proposed clean-up isn't enough, residents say. Freeholders will vote on resolution opposing it.

Posted: August 07, 2014

Gloucester County freeholders are scheduled to consider a resolution Wednesday opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recently announced plan to address a contaminated site in Newfield.

The proposed resolution calls the EPA's proposal "unacceptable," while asking the federal agency and state to do a full remediation.

"There's no trust that anything good is going to come of this unless it's properly taken care of," Freeholder Deputy Director Giuseppe "Joe" Chila said Tuesday. "It should be brought to the highest standards possible. Why should the community have any less?"

Chila and Freeholder Director Robert Damminger will introduce the resolution.

The Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site, a 67-acre area that falls partially in Vineland, produced metals and alloys until 2006. It's been on the EPA's Superfund list since 1984. Among other issues, hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen, and other heavy metals have contaminated soil, sediment, and surface water.

Last month, the EPA at a hearing outlined its proposed $5.3 million plan, which calls for removing 9,800 cubic yards of sediment from the Hudson Branch of the Maurice River, placing a one- or two-foot cap over a 1.3-acre storage area, and limiting future use to commercial purposes.

Residents resoundingly told the EPA that they wanted all of the contaminated materials out, not capped. Full site remediation, the EPA estimated, would cost nearly double the proposed amount.

Chila said the 1.7-square-mile borough can't afford to risk developable land. EPA officials have said their analysis showed "reasonably anticipated future land use" to be commercial or industrial.

EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez said in an e-mail that the agency expected "the selected remedy will be paid for by the responsible parties."

The EPA accepted comments on its proposal through July 28. Asked whether the agency would consider the freeholders' resolution if it's approved, Rodriguez said that "the EPA remains committed to an open dialogue with interested stakeholders."

Other issues at the site that are not part of the cleanup effort in question include perchlorate contamination, which is being studied, and piles of radioactive slag, a by-product of the metal-making process. Oversight of the slag has shifted repeatedly between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection, an issue to be considered again in court next month.



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