Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Martin Aaron, Inc. site is located in Camden, New Jersey. Various steel drum reconditioning companies operated at the site for approximately 30 years, ending in 1998.  Industrial activity at the site contaminated soil and groundwater with arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds, and other chemicals.  Actions to remove immediate hazards to human health and the environment have concluded, and activities are now focused on the long-term remediation of the site.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

In 1987, Martin Aaron, Inc. removed approximately 45 drums of contaminated soil for off-site disposal. In 1999, EPA and the NJDEP removed abandoned process equipment and drums, aboveground and underground storage tanks, and contaminated surface soils.

In July 2005, a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine the nature and extent of the contamination and evaluate remedial alternatives concluded. In September 2005, EPA selected the remedy for the site in the Record of Decision.  The remedy includes excavating contaminated soils and treating on-site or sending to an approved off-site disposal facility.  Residual soil contamination will be capped and future use of the site will be restricted.  Groundwater will be extracted from the ground and treated before it is discharged into the sewer system.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA and NJDEP have stabilized the site by removing drums, process equipment, tanks, and soil, and maintains a fence to prevent contact with remaining subsurface soil contamination.  In 2007, EPA reached an agreement with the responsible parties to undertake the soil cleanup. The responsible parties completed the design of the soil remedy in 2014 and are currently revising the plan for implementation of the remedy design, which is expected to start in 2017.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

The property has been used for light industrial activities since at least 1886. Until around 1940, various hide tanning, glazing, and related operations took place on site and on neighboring properties.  In 1968, Martin Aaron, Inc., purchased the property and is currently the owner of record.  From 1968 to 1987, the company operated a drum recycling business on site. In 1985, Westfall Ace Drum Company (WADCO), also known as Drum Services of Camden, and Rhodes Drums, Inc., began operating at the site. WADCO occupied the main on-site building (referred to as the Martin Aaron building), while Rhodes Drums operated from a smaller building in the southeastern corner of the property (known as the Rhodes Drums building). WADCO was liquidated in bankruptcy proceedings in 1994.

The steel drum reconditioning operations involved draining drums into tanks and pressure-washing, steam-rinsing and drying, sand-blasting, and repainting the drums. Residues from drum contents, rinsate, and steam blow-down drained from tanks and floor drains into skimming basins. Sludge was skimmed from the basins for off-site disposal and acidic water was neutralized and reused in the plant. The process also generated baghouse dust (from sand blasting) and spray paint wastes.

Beginning in 1971, EPA and NJDEP issued numerous violation notices to operators at the site, primarily related to illegal discharges and inappropriate storage of drums.  Anonymous reports claimed that drums and other containerized waste were buried on the property. The skimming basins were designed to discharge excess wastewater, after pH adjustment, to the combined sanitary/storm sewer system. However, it is suspected that some of the effluent discharged directly to the subsurface. Numerous aboveground and underground storage tanks were associated with the operations. Most of the vacant land has been used for drum storage.

In 1999, following removal operations and initial site assessment and investigation, EPA placed the site on National Priorities List.

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