Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced that they have removed a major asbestos dumping ground in New Jersey from their National Priorities List of sites eligible for federal cleanup funds. The site, located in Long Hill Township, New Jersey, was on the agency’s “Superfund” list after investigators discovered asbestos tailings spread over dozens of acres. The site also included a parcel in the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, a federally protected wildlife preserve.
EPA crews have conducted several air, water and soil quality tests in the area to gauge the effectiveness of the asbestos remediation. Inspectors have determined that cleanup efforts had successfully contained much of the asbestos found at the site. According to their reports, the site no longer constitutes a health hazard and will not affect the surrounding environment. The New Jersey site has been on the Superfund list since 1983.
Of the sixty acres affected by the contamination, seven were in a parcel inside the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is under the control of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of the Interior, and covers more than seven thousand acres. Although the area affected by the asbestos was small in comparison to the size of the preserve, the waste products could still have had an effect on some of the nearly two hundred thousand visitors the area receives each year.
The area around the preserve had been under the control of several different manufacturing firms since the early part of the twentieth century. At the time, asbestos was a popular material used in insulation and fireproofing. The mineral fibers were lightweight and had a high resistance to heat. Waste material from the insulation manufacturing process seeped into the soil surrounding the plants. Surface water from the site, which often contained asbestos products, flowed into the Passaic River and contaminated the water.
The cleanup work on the preserve started in 1998 in an area known as the Dietzman Tract. Workers gathered and concentrated much of the contaminated soil to isolate it from the rest of the area. They also improved the drainage paths and decreased the likelihood that contaminated soil would erode into the streams and rivers. Inspectors later went in to determine how the remediated area could be used for future applications, as well as the impact on the plants and animals native to the wetlands.
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also worked with EPA crews to clean up the asbestos waste products. The agency, along with the Fish and Wildlife Service, will continue to monitor the sites and carry out any maintenance projects as conditions change. EPA officials said that they would conduct reviews on the site every five years.
The agency has also recently deleted other sites in the area from the Superfund list. The Millington Unit, an eleven-acre space also affected by asbestos contamination, was deleted last week. Crews had been working to clean up that site since 1991.