EPA: New Measures to Protect New Jersey Waterways From Groundwater Contamination

July 21, 2011
Pollutants have been seeping from the American Cyanamid Superfund Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with the Wyeth Holdings Corp., a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., to install a system for collecting and treating contaminated groundwater from the American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, N.J. The agreement requires design and construction of this system to prevent contaminated groundwater from seeping into the Raritan River, Cuckhold’s Brook and Middle Brook.

A trench along the river will be constructed as an interim solution to block, capture and prevent groundwater from seeping into it. Groundwater contamination is believed to be partly coming from two impoundments, which are the focus of a separate study intended to offer a long-term remedial solution to the problem. The water captured in the trench will be treated and disposed of properly.

The superfund site has a legacy of industrial pollution dating back to 1915. For nearly 100 years, prior owners used the location for manufacturing chemicals. EPA has supervised the long-term cleanup of the site since 1983 when it was placed on the federal superfund list because hazardous chemicals were found in the soil and ground water.

Various contaminants were found onsite including benzene, which is a cancer-causing chemical. The site is secured, largely fenced off and access is restricted. Since 2009, Pfizer Inc. assumed responsibility for the site as part of its purchase of the Wyeth Holding Corp. Under the agreement, Wyeth will install a system designed to block, intercept and capture contamination from seeping groundwater that could impact the waterways.

Wyeth has also agreed to perform two studies, which will determine the movement of the contaminated groundwater through the affected area of the site to discover if there are additional impacts to the water bodies.

Finally, Wyeth agrees to pay all EPA oversight costs for this action starting from the effective date of the agreement. In March of this year, Wyeth installed a temporary system on an emergency basis to mitigate the groundwater seeping problem by installing a system on the riverbank using activated carbon until a long-term solution could be agreed upon with EPA and constructed by Wyeth.

Source: EPA

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