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EPA Water Treatment Facility Coming to Gloucester City; Cost $7.8 Million

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EPA Water Treatment Facility to clean radiologically impacted soil will be built in  North Gloucester City on the old Gloucester Terminal employees parking lot,  King Street between Essex and Warren Streets.  The estimated completion day is late 2021; the cost is $7.8 million.  (CNBNews photo)

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews

GLOUCESTER CITY—As part of the continual cleanup of the Welsbach Facility, formerly located at King and Essex Streets, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has filed a permit equivalency application to divert water from 16 excavations utilizing sumps and trenches with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Agency (DEP). The plan calls for diverting 26.28 million gallons of water monthly and 315.36 million gallons per year at 600 gallons per minute. 


The construction of the water treatment facility is on King Street, between Essex and Warren Streets. "It is property owned by Holt Cargo, the port facility owners and was previously used as an employee parking area," according to Stephen McBay, an EPA spokesman.


McBay said, "The construction of the Water Treatment Facility is scheduled to be completed in late 2021. The current estimated cost to construct the Waste Water Treatment Facility is $7.8 million."


Asked about the disposal of the 26 million gallons of water each month, McBay said, "Removal of radiologically impacted soil at the port facility will involve excavation and there will be associated dewatering of the excavation. That water will be transported to the water treatment facility, once constructed in mid/late 2021. Once treated it will be subject to the requirement of the  New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and subsequently discharged to the Delaware River under NJDEP’s requirements." 


"Complete cleanup of the Welsbach & General Gas Mantle Superfund Site is currently expected to be completed in 8-10 years. The current projection on the cost to complete the entire environmental clean-up ranges from $350 million to $375 million", said McBay.


 According to a legal notice that was published on September 11, 2020, in NJPublic Notices comments regarding the EPA's application must be received no later than 45 days from the date of this notification or by October 27, 2020, and submitted to James MacDonald, [email protected] Mail Code 401-04Q Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply & Geoscience Bureau of Water Allocation & Well Permitting P.O. Box 420 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0420.

The application and pertinent data may be examined, by appointment only, by contacting James MacDonald via email at [email protected] of the Bureau of Water Allocation & Well Permitting, Division of Water Supply & Geoscience, 401 East State Street, Trenton, New Jersey 08625. The Bureau of Water Allocation & Well Permitting can be contacted at (609) 984-6831.


The Welsbach & General Gas Mantle Contamination site is located in the cities of Camden and Gloucester City, New Jersey. The site includes two former incandescent gas mantle manufacturing facilities, as well as nearly 1,000 residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational properties. The Welsbach Company manufactured gas mantles at its facility in Gloucester City from the 1890s through the 1940s, while the General Gas Mantle Facility (GGM) operated in Camden from 1912 to 1941. As part of the process to make the gas mantles, the radioactive substance thorium was used to make the mantles glow brighter. Some of the waste materials from the manufacturing process contained the radioactive elements thorium and radium. These elements give off gamma radiation as part of the process of radioactive decay. It is believed that these waste materials were used as fill throughout areas of Gloucester City and Camden. After site investigations, immediate actions were taken to protect human health and the environment. The site’s long-term cleanup is ongoing.

What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

In the early 1990s, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) investigated more than 1,100 properties in Camden and Gloucester City for radiological contamination. As a protective measure, NJDEP installed gamma radiation shielding at about 30 properties and radon ventilation systems on three properties. NJDEP also purchased one contaminated residential property and relocated one commercial business. In December 1998, EPA excavated about 260 tons of radiologically contaminated soil from a public park area in Gloucester City and replaced it with clean fill. In September 2001, EPA did another removal action in Gloucester City. EPA removed about 210 tons of radiologically contaminated soils from three residential properties and installed a radon mitigation system on another property. Soil and Waste Materials: Based on NJDEP's investigations, about 100 properties were identified as being potentially contaminated with radiological materials. In July 1999, EPA selected a remedy for these areas in the site’s July 1999 Record of Decision, or ROD. It included excavation and off-site disposal of radiologically contaminated soil and waste materials, as well as demolition of the GGM building.

Armstrong Building:

After a remedial investigation and feasibility study for the Armstrong Building, EPA selected a remedy in the site’s September 2011 ROD. It included decontamination of radiologically contaminated surfaces in the building, along with off-site disposal of the waste materials. This remedy was implemented and completed in 2016.

Surface Water, Sediments and Wetlands: After ecological investigations of the South Branch of Newton Creek, Martin’s Lake, and parts of the Delaware River next to the site, EPA determined in the site’s July 2005 ROD that no remedial action was necessary.

EPA and NJDEP have reduced immediate risks from the site from gamma radiation by installing shielding at some of the site properties, removing soil contamination on several residential properties and a public park, and demolishing the GGM building in Camden. To address long-term site risks, EPA has investigated close to 950 properties in Camden and Gloucester City and has completed the cleanup on 163 of the nearly 175 properties identified as contaminated.

To date, EPA has excavated and disposed of more than 350,000 tons of radiologically contaminated soils and waste materials. These cleanups included removing about 105,000 tons of contaminated soil from Gloucester City Swim Club and adjacent residential properties; about 23,000 tons from the site of a Gloucester City middle school; 35,000 tons from residential properties along Highland Avenue and Klemm Boulevard in Gloucester City; more than 55,000 tons from the General Gas Mantle area in Camden, more than 16,000 tons from residential properties and wetlands areas along Temple Avenue in Gloucester City, and about 130,000 tons from the recreational properties along Johnson Boulevard in Gloucester City.

Contributing to this article Anne Forline, Editor of South Jersey Observer


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published | SEPT. 28 2020