Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

DIAMOND HEAD OIL REFINERY DIV.
KEARNY, NJ

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Site, located near the Hackensack Meadowlands at 1401 Harrison Avenue, Kearny, New Jersey, was the location of a former oil reprocessing facility. The Site is comprised of a 20.2-acre unoccupied parcel that includes wetland areas, a drainage ditch, a small wetland/pond, a vegetated landfill area along the western border, and the remnants of the former Diamond Head Oil Refinery on the eastern portion of the Site. The parcel is bordered by Harrison Avenue (also called the Newark Turnpike) to the north, entrance ramp “M” of Interstate 280 (I-280) to the east, I-280 to the south, and Campbell Distribution Foundry to the west.  The Site also includes a 10.3-acre portion of the I-280 interchange clover leaf, located east of the 20.2-acre unoccupied parcel.

The Site is currently undeveloped and is designated on the tax map as industrial/commercial. The land use surrounding the Site is industrial/commercial and open space/wetlands, and is not anticipated to change in the future.  The nearest residential area is located a half-mile to the west, and is not impacted by Site contamination.  A Municipal Sanitary Landfill Authority (MSLA) landfill, identified as the 1-D Landfill, is situated south of I-280.

Prior Site operations took place on the eastern half of the parcel. The landfilled area on the western portion of the parcel was once an access road to the 1-D Landfill, and a landfill mound remains from those activities, rising 10 to 15 feet above the rest of the Site. Surface water drains through a drainage ditch that eventually discharges to Frank’s Creek, which in turn discharges to the Passaic River.

Oil reprocessing at the Diamond Head Oil facility operated under several companies, including PSC Resources, Inc., Ag-Met Oil Service, Inc., and Newtown Refining Corporation, from 1946 to early 1979. During facility operations, multiple aboveground storage tanks and possibly subsurface pits were used to store oily wastes.  These wastes were intermittently discharged directly to adjacent properties to the east, and to the wetland area on the south side of the Site, creating an “Oil Lake.”

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Contaminants of concern at the Site include: Light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL), chromium, dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, aldrin, thallium, and benzo[a]pyrene in soil and sediment. The Site is fenced to discourage trespassers.

To date, EPA has taken several response actions at the Site under the authority of the Superfund Program. Below is a brief description of the actions taken at the Site:

  • From 2003 to 2009, EPA performed several phases of Remedial Investigation (RI) activities to define the nature and extent of the LNAPL waste, which is considered a source of media contamination, and determine risks posed by the source material (Operable Unit 1);
  • A Feasibility Study (FS) to evaluate different cleanup options to address the LNAPL waste at the Site (Operable Unit 1) was completed in 2009;
  • In 2014, EPA completed a pre-design investigation of the remedy to treat the LNAPL waste (Operable Unit 1) at the Site;
  • From 2009 to 2015, EPA performed an RI to define the nature and extent of contamination in soil, air, surface water, sediments, and groundwater at the Site, and the risks posed by the Site (Operable Unit 2); and,
  • An FS to address contaminants in soil and sediments (Operable Unit 2) was completed in 2016.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

In September 2017, EPA signed a Record of Decision for OU2 and a Record of Decision Amendment for OU1 to address the residual soil and sediment contamination (OU2) at the Site, and amend the LNAPL source area remedy (OU1). Groundwater will be the subject of a subsequent operable unit, OU3.

EPA is currently working on a combined Remedial Design (RD) for OU1 and OU2.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Soil: During the OU2 Remedial Investigation (RI), soil samples were taken in approximately 118 sample locations at multiple depths, from surface soils (0-4 ft.), and subsurface soils (5-10 ft.). Samples were tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, PCBs, metals, and dioxins and furans.  The site has been divided into two geographical areas: the former Diamond Head Oil Refinery property to the west, and the Interstate 280 traffic clover leaf to the east.  Surface soil samples taken within the property boundary revealed maximum concentrations of lead at 27,900 parts per million (ppm), chromium at 7,650 ppm, and PCBs at 14 ppm. Subsurface soil samples taken within the property boundary revealed concentrations of chromium at 22,300 ppm, thallium at 45.7 ppm, and benzo[a]pyrene at 35 ppm.  The highest levels of contamination in the surface and subsurface soils were located in the general area of the former refining operations, and in the central section of the former Oil Lake.
 

Surface soil samples taken outside the property boundary revealed maximum concentrations of PCBs at 1,800 ppm and aldrin at 75 ppm. Subsurface soil samples taken outside the property boundary, in the I-280 cloverleaf area, revealed concentrations of lead at 13,200 ppm and PCBs at 8.4 ppm.  The highest levels of contamination in the surface and subsurface soils were found from 0-2 feet in the surface soil and 5-17 feet in the subsurface soil, and were located within the footprint of the former Oil Lake.

Surface soil samples analyzed for dioxin and furan contamination from within the property boundary revealed a concentration of 1,873 parts per trillion (ppt) at 0-2 feet, located in the central section of the property, within the location of the former Oil Lake.  Soil samples taken from outside the property boundary, in the I-280 cloverleaf area, revealed concentrations of dioxin/furans at 8,188 ppt from 0-2 feet, and 11,172 ppt from 2.5-3 feet, and were located within the footprint of the former Oil Lake.

Sediment: Sediment samples were taken from the drainage ditch, which is only underwater during flooding events, and from Frank’s Creek in approximately 25 locations.  Sediment samples were tested for VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, metals, and dioxins and furans. Sediment samples revealed lead contamination at a concentration of 84,400 ppm, found at 0-3 feet in the central section of the former Diamond Head Oil Refinery property, within the footprint of the former Oil Lake.  Sediment samples taken from the drainage ditch, near it’s confluence with Frank’s Creek, revealed lead contamination at a concentration of 84,300 ppm, from a depth of 0-0.5 feet.

Surface Water: Surface water samples were taken from approximately 10 sample locations. Samples were tested for VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals. Surface water samples revealed maximum concentrations of lead at 712 µg/L (microgram per Liter), thallium at 160 µg/L, and beryllium at 990 µg/L, found in ponded surface water within the property boundary, and in one sample taken in the drainage ditch near its confluence with Frank’s Creek.

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