The former site of a Matlack truck terminal that included truck maintenance and truck, trailer and tanker washing in Woolwich Township, NJ, was recently added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites.
Located on Route 322, the site operated as a truck terminal from 1962 to 2001. Previous activities at the 70-acre facility included the cleanup of trucks and tankers used for transporting a variety of materials including flammable and corrosive liquids. The polluted cleaning solution was disposed of in an unlined lagoon behind the terminal building from 1962 until 1976 when Matlack began transporting the wastewater away from the site for disposal.
The lagoon was subsequently filled with a variety of demolition debris and other material. Matlack discontinued the tanker cleaning operations in November 1997, but continued to service and store vehicles at the site until 2001 when it submitted a petition for bankruptcy.
Sampling has shown that the soil in several areas of the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are chemicals that persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing. Contamination from the site is impacting the Grand Sprute Run stream and nearby wetlands that have been identified among New Jersey’s most significant natural areas, according to a WaterWorld report.
The EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups.
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. The search for the parties responsible for the contamination at the Matlack site is ongoing.
“Placing the Matlack site on the Superfund list is an important step in protecting people’s health and allowing EPA to take action to clean up the site,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By adding the site to the Superfund list, the EPA can do the extensive investigation needed to determine the best ways to address the contamination and protect public health.”