From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published August 12, 2010 12:47 PM

Cleanup of Superfund Site Completed in Morris County, New Jersey

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has successfully completed the cleanup of a superfund site in Long Hill Township and Harding Township, Morris County, NJ. The site, at the edge of a National Wildlife Refuge, had formerly served as an asbestos dump. It has now been removed from the National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites.

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The asbestos dump consisted of three distinct areas. The photo to the right (credit: bing.com) shows an aerial view of the largest area (green patch is capped area). The three areas are:
- The Millington Unit (11 acres)
- The New Vernon and White Bridge Road Unit (42 acres combined)
- The Dietzman Tract (7 acres)

For nearly fifty years, from 1927 to 1975, the site was utilized by several different manufacturing companies for the disposal of waste products containing asbestos. Years of asbestos dumping resulted in soil contamination which threatened to spread. The site is now owned by the State of New Jersey, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and private citizens. The principal responsible party, which helped to pay for the cleanup, is the National Gypsum Company.

The contamination was located in an environmentally sensitive area, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. It is 7,700 acres of swamps, wooded and wetland areas, and is managed by the USFWS for wildlife habitat and observation. The Great Swamp is home to wide variety of wildflowers, plants, migrating and non-migrating birds. Animals that live there include deer, fox, frogs, snakes, turtles, fish, insects, and more. There are also several lookout points for birds of prey. It receives about 185,000 visitors per year and is a very popular area among cyclists because it is flat, there is very little traffic, and it contains beautiful scenery.

The site was put on the National Priorities List in 1983. Cleanup actions of the three areas included the following:
- Consolidating and solidifying contaminated materials in areas on-site
- Capping the areas of consolidation
- Installing systems to divert surface runoff and improved drainage
- Erosion control
- Environmental impact assessment of the nearby wetlands
- Placing restrictions on future uses for the sites

After monitoring and analyzing data, the EPA determined that the asbestos was successfully contained and does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment. "The risk from the asbestos at this site has been addressed and now the site can come off the Superfund list," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. "Our assessment found that the cleanup was successful, clearing the way for the deletion of this property from the list of the country’s most hazardous waste sites."

New Jersey has the undeserved reputation of being an environmental nightmare, where toxic contamination is always a stone’s throw away. However, if any of NJ's detractors were to visit Morris County, they would quickly change their tune. It is a beautiful county with large park lands, friendly residential areas, and charming downtowns. The Great Swamp, in particular, is a hidden ecological gem that should be protected and cherished.

For more information on the Great Swamp: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatswamp/

For more information on this Superfund Site: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/d100712.htm

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