The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed plan to clean up the ground water at the NL Industries Inc. Superfund site in Pedricktown, N.J., that is contaminated with heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. The 44-acre site is a former lead smelting facility where lead from old automotive batteries were drained of sulfuric acid, crushed and processed for lead recovery. The Delaware River is approximately 1 1/2 miles from the site. The Cape May aquifer underlies the site, and serves as a source of drinking water and water for crop irrigation. Some area homes are connected to a municipal water supply that provides a safe source of drinking water. Other residents in the area receive their drinking water from private wells, which are monitored to ensure that they meet drinking water standards.
Lead is a
toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of
health problems in adults. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q.
deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced
attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems. Lead exposure also can
cause health problems in pregnant women, and harm fetuses. Excessive
exposure to cadmium can cause cancer.
proposed an approach to clean up the contaminated ground water by injecting an
non-hazardous additive into the ground water to absorb the metals instead of
using the more traditional method of pumping the ground water to the surface
and treating it to remove contaminants. EPA held a public meeting on July 7 to
explain the proposed plan, and will accept comments until July 21, 2011.
sure that people have a safe source of drinking water is one of EPA’s top
priorities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The treatment of
contaminated ground water at the NL Industries site will keep the contamination
from polluting drinking water supplies and causing more damage to this
important natural resource. EPA encourages public input on the proposed plan.”
Industries site was added to the Superfund list of the most contaminated
hazardous waste sites in 1983. Because of the nature and complexity of the
contamination at the site, EPA divided the investigation and cleanup into
multiple phases. Previously, EPA removed contaminated waste, soil, sediment,
piles of lead, debris and standing water; demolished contaminated buildings on
the site; secured other areas; and conducted sampling and monitoring
activities. Cleanup work at the site has been conducted by both EPA and the
party responsible for the contamination, with EPA oversight.
originally planned to pump the contaminated ground water to the surface, treat
it, and discharge the treated ground water into the Delaware
River. This type of treatment no longer is needed because
pollutant levels in the ground water have gone down significantly as the
sources of the contamination have been removed. EPA conducted a review of newer
treatment methods, and now is proposing to inject a non-hazardous additive into
the ground water that will absorb metal compounds such as lead and cadmium and
remove the dissolved contaminants from the ground water. EPA will conduct a
study to determine the type and quantity of the additive to be used. Sampling
and further study also will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the
EPA is requesting
public comments on the proposed plan, which will be accepted until July 21,