EPA finalizes interim plan to clean up East Rutherford Superfund site

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an interim plan to address sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other contaminants in the waterways at the Universal Oil Products Superfund Site, which is located next to Berry’s Creek in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Universal Oil Products Superfund site was included on the Administrator’s Emphasis List in November 2018. The Administrator’s Emphasis List is composed of sites that will benefit from the administrator’s immediate and intense action. Specifically, the site was added to expedite the release of the Proposed Plan with EPA’s Preferred Alternative, which was released for public comment in December 2018.

“This final cleanup plan allows us to continue the progress we are making to address contamination at this site, which impacts the broader New Jersey Meadowlands,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA is moving forward with scientifically sound approaches to Superfund cleanups throughout the region, including by advancing interim cleanup measures aimed at tackling the greatest risks first.”

EPA’s interim actions will include removing the top two feet of sediment within the cleanup area, totaling approximately 16,300 cubic yards. The excavated areas would then be backfilled with clean sand and gravel. The estimated cost of EPA’s selected remedy is $18.6 million.

Other highlights of EPA’s cleanup plan include:

  • Dewatering, treatment, transportation, and off-site disposal of contaminated sediment.
  • Institutional controls, including New Jersey’s fish and crab consumption advisories.
  • Post-cleanup monitoring program that monitors the surrounding ecosystem’s response to the cleanup as well as the adjacent marshes, waterways east of Murray Hill Parkway, and Berry’s Creek, which are hydrologically connected to the Universal Oil Products site.
  • Groundwater monitoring during the design of the cleanup that assesses whether volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the shallow groundwater are discharging to the waterways and whether this potential discharge could compromise the interim sediment cleanup.

The Universal Oil Products Superfund site is located near the intersection of Route 17 and Paterson Plank Road in East Rutherford and consists of approximately 74 acres of marshes, tidal waterways, highways, and commercial properties. As a result of previous operations by several companies at the site, the groundwater, soil and sediment became contaminated with lead, PCBs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and VOCs.

EPA held a public meeting in March 2019 to explain its cleanup proposal, discuss the other cleanup options that were considered, and to solicit public comments. EPA accepted public comments on the proposed plan.

To read the EPA’s Record of Decision and to view EPA’s responses to public comments in the Responsiveness Summary, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/universal-oil

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at www.twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/eparegion2

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