Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administration Janet McCabe and Acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan in announcing an interim plan designed to clean up the lower Passaic River.
The interim plan will call for work to begin now, with options for EPA to address remaining contamination later on. The work will cap and dredge about 387,000-cubic yards of contamination, with additional capping and dredging ready for areas with potential for erosion, or high concentrations of contaminants.
“I commend the Biden-Harris Administration for its commitment to ensuring the Passaic River is restored in order to protect the neighboring families and communities, as well as the fish and wildlife in the river,” said Menendez. “We have no greater responsibility than the health and safety of the community and no greater duty than keeping our air and water safe and clean for future generations.”
The program is an expansion to address the contaminated sediment in the upper nine miles of the Lower Passaic River Study Area of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site.
“I’m proud…to announce this remediation effort that, in conjunction with work already taking place along the Lower Passaic River, will remove contaminated sediment from the area with minimal disturbance to nearby communities,” said Booker.
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Additionally, dredging would protect against future flooding and activities on the water would be restricted to protect the cap. The scheme would include monitoring and maintenance activities to ensure the stability and integrity of the cap.
The Diamond Alkali Superfund Site
The lower 17 miles of the Passaic River are assigned as a study area of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site. The area was designated as a Superfund site in 1984, with the Diamond Alkali Company alleged to have contaminated the Ironbound section of Newark.
EPA’s plan called for the removal or isolation under a cap of the contamination sources in the upper nine miles of the study area. Although the lower 8.3 miles of the 17 miles in the Passaic River study area contain the greatest volume on contaminated sediment, the upper nine miles acted as a continuing source of pollution.
The goal was for work to be completed at the same time on both parts of the study area.
“The work we are doing under this plan will provide job opportunities for local residents and it means that the days of continuing contamination in the Passaic River are numbered. I’m looking forward to seeing this river transformed into a sustainable asset in communities that have been overburdened by pollution for far too long,” said McCabe.