2010 / Q4 News Briefs

New Study Finds No Evidence of Increased Risk of Three Types of Cancer

A health assessment conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found no evidence that Jersey City residents who lived near chromium-contaminated sites from 1979 to 2006 were at an increased risk of three types of cancer — oral, esophageal or stomach.

ATSDR used New Jersey State Cancer Registry data and information on the chromium sites in completing the assessment. To read the study go to: http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/cehsweb/documents/hudson_co_chromium_hc.pdf

Have You Seen The Latest Newsletter?

Area residents were mailed a copy of the Partnership’s latest newsletter before the holidays. The newsletter provides information about the agreement to clean up the Garfield Avenue Site by digging out and hauling away chromium waste. Here are website links to documents mentioned in the latest edition of the Chromium Cleanup Partnership newsletter:

Excavation is chosen as cleanup method for Garfield Ave

TRENTON, N.J., Nov. 30, 2010 – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that the City of Jersey City, PPG Industries and the agency have reached agreement on the clean-up method for the Garfield Avenue chromium site.

The NJDEP news release announcing the agreement follows:

The Department of Environmental Protection and Jersey City have secured a commitment from Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries to excavate and remove hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic chromium-processing wastes and contaminated soil from the site of a former chrome-production facility on Garfield Avenue, Commissioner Bob Martin announced.

The plan for the Garfield Avenue chrome site is outlined in a progress report filed by court-appointed Site Administrator W. Michael McCabe with Judge Thomas P. Olivieri, presiding in the Chancery Division of Superior Court for Hudson County.

The site is undergoing interim remediation for removal of the mostly highly contaminated wastes and has interim capping measures to protect the public from direct exposure to contaminants that include hexavalent chromium, a highly toxic metal.

The plan secured and approved by the DEP is an effective means to ensure the long-term protection of public health and the environment, Commissioner Martin said.

"This plan is a major step forward for people who live near the Garfield Avenue site who have had to live with these wastes buried in their midst for far too long," Commissioner Martin said. "The DEP has been working very hard toward a remediation plan that is mindful of residents' concerns about this site, the last major chromium cleanup remaining in Jersey City. I commend all the parties for working together toward this important goal. Thorough and protective cleanups at all contaminated sites across New Jersey is a top priority of my administration."

PPG agreed to remediate the site under a February 2009 settlement agreement with the DEP and Jersey City. The progress report filed in Superior Court provides details on how PPG plans to accomplish this.

"After months of first-hand experience at the site, it became even more clear that we should go straight to the cleanup approach most favored by the community and Jersey City: Simply stated, dig it all out and haul it away," McCabe said. "I am very pleased that PPG has selected this approach and that DEP has approved it. This has the best chance of meeting our shared goal of a complete remediation by the fall of 2014, and I look forward to discussing the details of this agreement with the community."

PPG has committed to excavating and removing all sources of chromate waste to a minimum depth of 20 feet and a maximum depth of 35 feet - or until excavation reaches a natural barrier of clay-like material known as a meadow mat. Studies indicate that most of the contamination is above the meadow mat. The meadow mat is considered an effective natural barrier to prevent spread of contamination in ground water. In all, an estimated 708,000 tons of chrome wastes will be removed."

PPG also committed to designing and constructing an on-site plant to treat all contaminated water generated on site. Following removal of the source materials, PPG proposes implementing groundwater remediation measures that may include on-site bioremediation, containment walls, groundwater extraction and treatment, and natural attenuation with institutional controls.

During the project, PPG will monitor dust and take suppression action. The goal will be for no visible dust to leave the site at any time. An individual will be on-site solely to direct these efforts.

The Garfield Avenue site, located in a densely populated area, is fenced off and contamination is located beneath the footprints of former buildings, paving, and temporary capping materials that greatly reduce the risk of public exposure.

From the early 1900s until the 1970s, Hudson County was the center of chrome production in the nation, with three of the nation's six chromium chemical production plants located in the county. One of them operated on the nearly 17-acre site on Garfield Avenue that began operations in the 1920s as the Natural Products Refining Co.

PPG owned and operated the facility from 1954 until 1963. PPG sold the property a year later, but chrome production never resumed. The buildings were demolished in 2002.

In addition to the main processing sites, scores of other properties became contaminated decades ago when processing waste was sold or given away as fill material for construction projects. All of the more than 200 properties in Hudson County contaminated with chromium ore processing residue have undergone at least interim remediation to prevent further direct exposures to residents. Remediation has been completed at 72 of these sites.

To read the plan and related court filings, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/siteinfo/chrome/ppg/