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Cleanup for American Cyanamid superfund site has watchdog concerned

cyanamidbridgewater090111_optBY JOE TYRRELL

A new, partial cleanup proposal for the old American Cyanamid property in Bridgewater would treat some contaminated material on site, improve the groundwater collection system and place restrictions on future uses of the Superfund area, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In announcing the plan, the EPA scheduled a public hearing 7 p.m. March 8 at the Somerset County Vo-Tech on Vogt Drive in Bridgewater, and will accept additional comments through March 31.

After more than two decades monitoring the cleanup, the grassroots group CRISIS responded cautiously, saying it has "several concerns" about the latest proposal. "I anticipate we will ask for more extensive details," Walt Sodie, the group's executive director, said via e-mail.

The EPA approach resembles one endorsed by Pfizer, the site's current owner, and estimated to cost $204 million. That is significantly more than a "no action" option that is a standard part of Superfund reviews. But it is well below a more comprehensive $1.8 billion effort.

The proposal can be viewed here.

One of the largest and most complex Superfund sites in the state that has the most, the American Cyanamid complex along the Raritan River was the scene of extensive chemical manufacturing for a century. Although northern portions of the 575-acre property were sold off for construction of a shopping center and a ballpark more than a decade ago, the remaining 435 acres are dotted by chemical sludge lagoons, many inundated by storms over the years.

Although the site was added to the Superfund clean-up list in 1982, the new proposal does not include measures to clean up two of the sludge lagoons, which EPA plans to address separately.

CRISIS, which includes local officials as well as residents, formed in the late 1980s to fight plans to build a waste incinerator on the Cyanamid property. Over the years, it has generally supported on-site efforts by the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection, which led the cleanup until 2008.

But there are signs that the working relationship is fraying. In its statement on the latest proposal, CRISIS described the results of a 1998 plan adopted for previous action on the site as "a fiasco."

Comments (1)
1 Saturday, 18 February 2012 15:55
Bob Spiegel
We must work to inform all the communities around the site that the proposal by Pfizer will endanger all the communities including Bound Brook, Bridgewater all the flood prone towns. Not only would Pfizer's plan leave all the poisons in place. Their proposal would place hundreds of thousand of cubic yards of fill in this flood prone area and increase flooding for this region. Putting aside that there are promising technologies that can be used here and their numbers for cleanup are out in left field.

Flooding is already a major problem here and if you take out almost 500 acres of flood storage what happens down stream? Fight the plan and force Pfizer and EPA to do the right thing and clean up this site not cap it.

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