Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

UNIVERSAL OIL PRODUCTS (CHEMICAL DIVISION)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Universal Oil Products Superfund site (UOP) is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Various chemicals were manufactured at the 75-acre area from 1930 until 1979, when the company ceased operations and dismantled the plant.

EPA divided the site into two Operable Units (OUs) to assist with site management:  OU1 consists of upland soil and shallow groundwater, and OU2 consists of a former lagoon area, low-lying marshes, and the waterway channels of Ackermans Creek and its tributaries.

The upland portion of UOP is the former location of the Union Ink Company, which manufactured printing inks, lacquers, enamels, coatings, and silk screening inks from 1930 to 1945, and the former Trubek Laboratories, Inc. (Trubek) facility.  Trubek began operations in 1932 as a chemical manufacturing facility.  In 1955, Trubek began operating a solvent recovery facility and handling waste chemicals.  Trubek constructed and began operating a wastewater treatment plant and two wastewater holding lagoons in 1956, which were located in the current OU2 marsh area.  Universal Oil Products Company purchased the facility from Trubek in 1963 and became the owner and operator of the facility.  Between 1956 and 1971, seepage from the wastewater lagoons and routine handling of products and wastes resulted in the release of various hazardous substances to the upland soils and groundwater (currently OU1) and the tidal marshes and waterways (currently OU2).  Universal Oil Products Company was renamed UOP, Inc. in 1975.  Operations at the facility ceased in 1979, and the building structures were demolished in 1980.  Between 1975 and 1979, The Signal Companies acquired UOP, Inc.  In 1985, The Signal Companies merged with Allied Corporation, becoming Allied Signal, Inc.  Following a merger and a series of name changes, Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell) became the owner of the property in 2002. UOP is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell. 

In 1983, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued an Administrative Consent Order requiring UOP to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS).  The site was also listed on the EPA National Priority List on September 8, 1983.  NJDEP was the lead agency for site from 1982 to 2008, after which EPA assumed the role of lead agency.  Honeywell and its predecessors have been conducting response actions under NJDEP and EPA oversight since the early 1980s.

After immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, and site investigations, EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in September 1983.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Immediate Actions: Lagoons were addressed on an expedited basis by the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP) in 1990. The PRP removed liquids, sludges and sediments from these surface impoundments under New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) oversight.

Upland Cleanup: After a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine the nature and extent of contamination on OU1 and to evaluate remedial alternatives, EPA selected the remedy in the site’s September 1993 Record of Decision, or ROD, updating it in December 1998. The ROD was further modified by a document known as an Explanation of Significant Differences in April 1999. Remedial actions that address the contaminated soils and a portion of the groundwater have been completed. Soils contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were addressed through a combination of thermal desorption and off-site disposal. A portion of the soils contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were treated using soil vapor extraction. Lead-contaminated soils were excavated and placed in a containment area under an on-site cap. Groundwater was remediated by an on-site treatment system that operated from October 1997 through November 1998.

Streamlands:  Honeywell began RI activities in the waterway channels and marshes of OU2 in 2005 with collection of sediment and surface water data to investigate the nature and extent of contamination and to develop a preliminary conceptual site model.  Two removal measures were performed in 2005 and 2007 under NJDEP’s cleanup procedures and oversight in the marshes and lagoon area to accommodate the construction of the New Jersey Transit rail line and right-of-way.  The rail line was designed to cross over OU2 to connect the Pascack Valley rail line with the Meadowlands Sports Complex.  The removal consisted of excavation of soil and sediment to a depth of two to four feet below grade in the proposed construction area and areas where the railroad tracks would be supported by pilings; excavated material was disposed off-site.  Contaminated soil was also buried under clean soil in areas where the railroad tracks would be elevated on soil embankments.  A portion of the UOP property was then transferred to the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority (NJSEA); however, responsibility for site cleanup remains with Honeywell.

In 2010, Honeywell signed an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (AOC) with EPA to complete the UOP OU2 RI/FS and perform a Non-time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA).  The objective of the NTCRA was to remove highly-contaminated sediment in the former wastewater lagoons and adjacent areas of Ackermans Creek that had not been addressed during the 1990 removal action.  The NTCRA was completed in 2013 and included excavation and off-site disposal of the lagoon berms and sediment followed by placement of a one-foot layer of sand on the bottom of the excavated area.  As a result of the NTCRA, the configuration of the former lagoon area was altered, and the area is now hydrologically connected with Ackerman’s Creek and subject to tidal fluctuations affecting the surrounding watershed. 

Honeywell completed the RI Report and risk assessments for UOP OU2 in 2018.  The RI Report includes a discussion on the removals performed in 2005 and 2007 and the NTCRA.  The risk assessments, which incorporate both the pre-NTCRA and post-NTCRA data, identified PCBs as contaminants of concern (COCs) for OU2.  The FS Report completed in 2018 focuses on the proposed interim source control remedial action for the waterway sediment.  The RI Report and FS Report provide the basis for the Proposed Plan published by EPA on December 10, 2018 for a proposed interim remedial action for the waterway sediment in OU2.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Contamination at the site is being addressed in three phases. The first cleanup phase addressed contaminated soils in the upland portions of the site. The second phase of the cleanup was to address contaminated groundwater. The third phase is addressing contaminants in the adjoining wetland and creek areas.

The first two phases have been completed.

In December 2018, EPA proposed a cleanup plan for the waterways sediment in the portion of the Streamlands area of the Universal Oil Products site located west of Murray Hill Parkway. Under that proposal, about 16,300 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, from the main channel of Ackerman’s Creek and its tributaries, including the former NTCRA area and the Ackermans South area would be excavated, dewatered, and taken off site for disposal. A tide gate would be installed at Murray Hill Parkway and the lagoon and water would be taken out of the channels to allow for excavations "in the dry," down to a depth of two feet below the existing sediment surface or the natural clay layer present throughout most of the site. Backfill material would be subsequently placed to the existing surface sediment elevation.  Groundwater monitoring will be conducted during the remedial design to assess whether shallow groundwater from OU1 is discharging to the waterways.  If groundwater VOC discharge presents an unacceptable risk to the benthic invertebrate community in UOP OU2, an appropriate response will be selected in the future.  Institutional controls, such as the existing New Jersey fish consumption advisories, will be maintained.  Long-term measures would also include maintenance of the backfill layer and a post-construction performance monitoring program to monitor the success of the proposed interim source control remedial action in the surrounding ecosystem and in the adjacent marshes and waterways that are hydrologically connected to Ackermans Creek.  The waterway sediment on the east side of Murray Hill Parkway will also be remediated under the Record of Decision (ROD) dated September 25, 2018 for the Berry’s Creek Study Area of the Ventron/Velsicol Superfund site (https://www.epa.gov/superfund/ventron-velsicol).

EPA encourages the public to review the proposed plan published in December 2018, supporting documents, and the administrative record, which are available at this webpage.  Public comment on the proposed plan will be accepted during the public comment period from December 10, 2018 to March 22, 2019.  EPA will present the details of the proposed plan during a public meeting scheduled for March 6, 2019 beginning at 6:30 pm at the Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library/Borough Hall.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact one of the project contacts listed on this webpage. View flyer at: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/563476

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