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The US and NJ Reach Settlement for Cleanup at the Hercules, Superfund Site, Gibbstown

 

Hercules LLC agrees to perform the design and construction of the selected remedy and pay past and future response costs in a consent decree.
 
Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 15.56.06image courtesy of NJ.com


New York — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State of New Jersey today announced the lodging of a consent decree with Hercules LLC to perform the cleanup design and conduct the cleanup selected by EPA for the Hercules, Inc. (Gibbstown Plant) Superfund Site in Gibbstown, New Jersey.

“This important agreement ensures that the responsible party will perform the work needed to address contamination at the Gibbstown Plant,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “The EPA appreciates the commitment of the Department of Justice, the State of New Jersey, and community leaders for helping advance this cleanup to protect people’s health and the environment.”

“Remediating contaminated sites is always a team effort and we are proud to work with the EPA on this important clean-up,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “The DEP is pleased that Hercules has agreed to reimburse the State for all outstanding costs to the State for the remediation of the Gibbstown Plant, and to complete the remediation of the site.  Hercules’ assumption of responsibility for long-term monitoring of the remaining soil and ground water contamination will ensure that the public and the environment are protected.”

Under the consent decree, Hercules will design and implement the final cleanup remedy selected in EPA’s 2018 Record of Decision (ROD). EPA will oversee Hercules’ performance of the work, which is estimated to cost $11.3 million. In addition, Hercules will fully reimburse EPA for approximately $144,000 in site-related past response costs and pay EPA’s future costs of overseeing the company’s performance of the cleanup design and action. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection oversaw the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the site and Hercules also will pay New Jersey’s past costs of nearly $130,000. 

Under EPA’s final cleanup plan, Hercules will excavate the top four feet of contaminated soil, treat the excavated soil using naturally-occurring microorganisms to destroy or break down the contaminants, and treat soil located deeper than four feet using chemicals to spur naturally occurring microorganisms to destroy or break down the contaminants in-place. The company will excavate lead-contaminated soil and dispose of it off-site. It will also remove contaminated sediment from Clonmell Creek and an on-site storm water basin and use plants that destroy or break down contamination to treat the sediment on-site. The treated soil and sediment will be reused as soil cover at the site. Hercules will continue to extract and treat contaminated groundwater using a system operating on-site.

The Hercules, Inc. (Gibbstown Plant) site is located on approximately 350 acres in Gloucester County. The site encompasses an 80-acre former process area and a 4-acre area known as the Solid Waste Disposal Area (SWDA). Waste materials from manufacturing processes, including tar waste resulting from the production of aniline, were disposed of in two unlined disposal pits in the SWDA. Under the direction of the State of New Jersey, Hercules Inc. (now Hercules LLC) conducted cleanup activities that included consolidation of the tar pits and contaminated soil under a cap to reduce exposure, long-term monitoring, and restrictions on the access and use of the groundwater in the vicinity of the SWDA. From 1953 to 2010, Hercules Inc. used the former process area to manufacture chemicals including phenol and acetone. The manufacturing activities that took place during this time resulted in hazardous substances, including volatile organic compounds, being released into the soil, sediment and groundwater. Operations at the plant ceased and the structures associated with manufacturing were demolished in 2010. A groundwater extraction and treatment system was installed in the former process area as an interim cleanup action to protect local municipal drinking water wells. The system is still operating; to date, more than two billion gallons of contaminated groundwater have been extracted and treated. The remedy selected in the 2018 ROD is the final remedy for the contaminated groundwater in the former process area.

The public has the opportunity to submit written comments on the consent decree, which is subject to a 60-day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree will be available at www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees

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