The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday a proposed plan to cleanup the groundwater at the NL Industries Inc. Superfund site in Pedricktown, N.J., that is contaminated with heavy metals, including lead and cadmium.
The 44-acre site is a former lead smelting facility where lead from old automotive batteries were drained of sulfuric acid, crushed and processed for lead recovery.
The Delaware River is approximately 1.5 miles from the site. The Cape May aquifer underlies the site and serves as a source of drinking water and water for crop irrigation. Some area homes are connected to a municipal water supply that provides a safe source of drinking water.
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of health problems in adults. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems. Lead exposure can also cause health problems in pregnant women and harm fetuses. Excessive exposure to cadmium can cause cancer.
EPA has proposed an innovative approach to clean up the contaminated groundwater by injecting a non-hazardous additive into the groundwater to absorb the metals instead of using the more traditional method of pumping the groundwater to the surface and treating it to remove contaminants. EPA will hold a public meeting on July 7 to explain the proposed plan and will accept comments until July 21, 2011.