Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Standard Chlorine Chemical Company, Inc. (SCCC) site is an approximately 42-acre area situated between the Belleville Turnpike and the Hackensack River in Kearny, New Jersey. Manufacturing activities from about 1916 to 1993 included the production, storage and packaging of moth balls and flakes, manufacture of lead-acid batteries, formulation of drain cleaners, production of dye carriers, and distillation and purification of chlorinated benzenes.  These operations were conducted by various entities including the Thomas A. Edison Emark Battery Corporation and the Standard Naphthalene Products Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SCCC. Fill materials containing chromite ore processing residue were placed on the site and two lagoons were excavated on the eastern portion of the site to contain surface water runoff and other wastes, which ultimately drained to the Hackensack River. A railroad right-of-way, the location of a former rail spur, is west of the former lagoon area. The majority of the property lies within the 100-year floodplain of the Hackensack River.

Releases of hazardous substances to the soil, surface water and groundwater have been documented since at least the early 1980s. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was cleaning up the site under its Brownfields program before referring the site to the EPA in 2001.


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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

After evaluating the site conditions, the EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2007.  In 2008, the EPA started a comprehensive site investigation to determine the nature and extent of contamination, and to identify cleanup alternatives to address remaining concerns. In 2010, the EPA entered into an agreement with parties potentially responsible for the contamination at the site to seal openings in the distillation tower building. In 2013, the EPA entered into another agreement with potentially responsible parties to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Focused Feasibility Study to complete the comprehensive site investigation and develop and evaluate potential cleanup options. The site investigation has included documentation of the Thomas A. Edison Emark Battery Corporation buildings as required by the National Historic Preservation Act.  The Record of Decision, or final cleanup plan, was signed in September 2016.

Access to the site is restricted by fencing. The interim response actions prevent the migration of contaminated groundwater, DNAPL and surface water into the Hackensack River. Demolition of the SCCC buildings (except the Edison buildings, which currently remain on-site) has further protected human health and the environment.

The final cleanup plan requires a cap that would extend over the remaining uncovered areas, as well as upgrades to existing covers, to prevent soil disturbance. Some areas of the site where soil is heavily contaminated have already been covered by a cap to prevent contaminants from spreading. The five dilapidated buildings remaining on the site will be demolished. Maintenance and operation of the previous work will continue, including expansion of the pump and treat system that was installed to clean up polluted groundwater. Land use controls such as a deed notice and other controls will prohibit the use of the groundwater and prohibit using the site for any residential purposes. The EPA will conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is being addressed in two stages: interim response actions and a long-term remedial phase focused on site-wide cleanup. Already completed interim actions have included sealing openings in and demolishing buildings, placement of a slurry wall to contain dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) and contaminated groundwater, passive DNAPL recovery and a groundwater treatment system, and consolidation of contaminated materials beneath an engineered cap in the location of the former lagoons.

EPA released its proposed long-term cleanup remedy for public comment on July 27, 2016 and held a public meeting in August 2016 to explain the proposed plan.  After considering the public comments received, EPA finalized the cleanup plan in September 2016.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

Exposure to site contaminants in soil and groundwater is restricted by institutional controls in the form of a Classification Exception Area/Well Restriction Area.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Monitoring is conducted to confirm the integrity of the slurry wall and that the treated water is in compliance with discharge criteria.

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