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EPA Announces Cleanup Plan for the Ellis Property Site in Evesham Township, New Jersey

EPA Cost of Removal of Contaminated Soil Estimated at $13.6 Million

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up soil contaminated with trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds at the Ellis Property Superfund site in Evesham Township, New Jersey. The contaminated soil is polluting ground water underlying the site. The ground water is not currently being used as a source of drinking water, but ground water at the site has been used in the past for drinking water and for irrigation of farmland nearby. Exposure to trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer.

The plan announced today was first proposed to the public in July 2013. The EPA held a public meeting and received public input for 30 days. The EPA reviewed the extensive public comments submitted and has prepared detailed responses to them, which can be found on the EPA’s website at http://epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/ellis/index.html.

"The removal of contaminated soil will prevent continued pollution of the ground water at this site, protecting people’s health and the environment," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck.

Under the cleanup plan, the EPA will excavate 67,500 cubic yards of soil at the site. Clean soil will be used to fill excavated areas and contaminated soil will be disposed of at an EPA-approved disposal facility.

The EPA will also consider using a soil treatment method called “in-situ” treatment in some portions of the site if it can be shown that it would be as effective as removal. Under this method, contamination is broken down into less harmful materials by applying chemicals, electricity, heat, or biological organisms into the soil. Less soil would need to be excavated using this method, reducing truck traffic to and from the site. During the design phase of the cleanup, the EPA will determine if and where in-situ treatment will be used to complement excavation.

Levels of contamination in the ground water are expected to reach cleanup goals soon after the contaminated soil is removed. However, the ground water treatment system currently being used at the site will be kept in place for approximately one more year to further reduce ground water contaminants. The EPA will conduct quarterly ground water monitoring for the first year following this cleanup, followed by annual ground water monitoring for the next nine years.

The Ellis property was purchased by Irving Ellis in 1968 and was used for the reconditioning of storage drums until the late 1970’s. These operations are believed to have resulted in spills of solvents and metals, which contaminated soil and ground water at the site. In 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection discovered numerous corroded and leaking drums on the site. In 1983, the DEP removed over 100 drums and contaminated surface soil from the site. In 1989, the EPA disposed of over 200 additional drums that had been buried in the soil. The site was added to the Superfund list in 1990.

In 1992, the EPA issued its first cleanup plan for the site. During this cleanup, contaminated soil was removed and a system to extract and treat contaminated ground water was constructed. Tests performed in 2006 and 2007 revealed continued tetrachloroethylene contamination in soil below the water table. Despite the ongoing operation of the ground water treatment system at the site, trichloroethylene from the soil continues to contaminate the ground water.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. In this instance, no viable party was identified to pay the cleanup costs. The EPA estimates the cost of this cleanup will be $13,600,000, which will be paid entirely by the EPA Superfund program.

For more information on the Ellis Property Superfund site, go to: http://epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/ellis/index.html

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