The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to clean up contaminated soil from residential properties at the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek Superfund site in Gibbsboro and Voorhees, N.J. The site includes a former paint manufacturing plant and the waters of Hilliards Creek, which flow into Kirkwood Lake. The soil and the groundwater beneath the former paint manufacturing site are contaminated with lead, arsenic and volatile organic compounds. Sediment in and near Hilliards Creek are contaminated with lead and arsenic.
Lead exposure can have serious, long-term health consequences. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavioral problems. Lead exposure can also cause health problems in pregnant women and harm fetuses. Arsenic and volatile organic compounds can damage people’s health and the environment.
“Lead is a potent toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of other health problems,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “It is imperative that the toxic contamination at this site and at homes is addressed to protect people’s health.”
The EPA’s decision calls for the removal of contaminated soil from approximately 33 residential properties in Gibbsboro and Voorhees. The soil will be dug up and properly disposed of at facilities licensed to handle the waste. The excavated areas will be backfilled with clean soil, replanted with vegetation, if needed, and restored. Data from residential soil sampling at 55 properties sampled has been shared with the property owners. Additional properties may require a cleanup under the decision, as well. The EPA will determine the precise number of residential properties that would need soil remediation after additional sampling during the design phase of the project. The EPA will coordinate with the property owners or occupants to ensure that the work is done with minimal disruption.
On June 11, 2015, the EPA held a public meeting in Gibbsboro, N.J., and the agency accepted public comments for 60 days.
The Sherwin-Williams/Hilliard’s Creek site along with the Route 561 dump site and the United States Avenue Burn Superfund site, located in Gibbsboro, are sources of contaminated soil and sediment, which have spread onto a number of residential properties within Gibbsboro and Voorhees. Paint manufacturing and related activities at the sites resulted in widespread contamination of soil, sediment and groundwater with high levels of various contaminants including lead, arsenic and volatile organic compounds. Hilliards Creek, Kirkwood Lake, the Gibbsboro Nature Preserve and residential areas have been impacted and require a cleanup.
The proposed soil cleanup on residential properties builds upon the previous work and precedes additional cleanup actions that will be developed in the future as part of the comprehensive cleanup.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. It is anticipated that the $14 million soil cleanup of the residential properties impacted by the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek site, the Route 561 dump site and the United States Avenue Burn site will be conducted and paid for by any such party with oversight by the EPA.
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