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EPA Directs NL Industries to Remove Lead at Raritan Bay Superfund Site in Old Bridge and Sayreville, New Jersey

$79 Million Cleanup Will Remove Toxic Lead from Popular Beach and Public Park

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has directed NL Industries to conduct a $79 million cleanup at the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site in Old Bridge and Sayreville, New Jersey. Soil and sediment at the site are contaminated with lead-containing waste that was used to construct a seawall and jetty at the popular beach. In May 2013, the EPA finalized its plan to clean up lead contamination at the Raritan Bay site and the order requires that NL Industries implement that plan.

Lead is a toxic metal that is especially dangerous to children because their growing bodies can absorb more of it than adults. Lead in children can result in I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavioral disorders. The order requires the removal of lead-contaminated material and its replacement with clean material in order to reduce the risk to those who use the beach, particularly children.

"The lead contamination at the Raritan Bay beach and park is a threat to the health of the people who live in this community and it is now time for NL Industries to fulfill its legal responsibility to conduct the cleanup," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "The cleanup will make it possible for children to play at the beach safely and for everyone to enjoy the beach without fear of lead exposure."

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.

NL Industries has been identified as a party responsible for the cost of cleanup. Historical documents provide evidence that at least some if not all of the slag found at the site came from the former National Lead Company (now NL Industries) facility in Perth Amboy, NJ which was in operation approximately 40 years ago.

The cleanup of the Raritan Bay Slag site will be conducted in three areas contaminated with lead-containing materials, including lead slag, a byproduct of metal smelting. One sector includes the Laurence Harbor seawall adjacent to the Old Bridge Waterfront Park in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge Township. Another section consists of the western jetty in Sayreville and extends from the Cheesequake Creek Inlet into Raritan Bay. The remaining section is approximately 50 acres of Margaret's Creek and has elevated lead levels along with areas of slag and battery casings.

For both the Laurence Harbor seawall and the western jetty sectors, contaminated soil, sediment and waste including slag and battery casings will be dug up or dredged, and the material will be disposed of at permitted disposal facilities out of the area. Excavated areas will be restored with clean material.

Within the Margaret's Creek section, EPA will require the removal of slag and battery casings, along with areas of contaminated soil associated with these materials. Clean material will be placed as needed in the excavated areas. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring and testing will be conducted to ensure that public health and the environment are protected and the community will be kept informed about activities and progress. The EPA has worked closely with the Community Advisory Group for the site throughout the investigation and cleanup. Cleanup activities conducted at the site will be done under EPA oversight.

To view a copy of the EPA's order or for more information on the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/raritanbayslag.