Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Emmell’s Septic Landfill site encompasses approximately 38 acres in Galloway Township, New Jersey. The site was a landfill which operated from 1967 through 1979, accepting septic and sewage sludge which was ponded in trenches and lagoons. Reportedly, both solid and chemical waste was also disposed of at the landfill, including drums containing paint sludges, gas cylinders, household garbage, and construction debris. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water within four miles of the site. In addition, groundwater is used for irrigation of commercial food crops within four miles of the site. It is estimated that 100 residents live within one-half mile of the site, with at least 25 residents situated within 2000 feet downgradient of the site. In addition, Stockton University maintains two supply wells located within one mile of the site. The nearest resident is 200 feet from the site’s property boundary. Site Responsibility: This site is being addressed through Federal and State actions.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

As part of the removal action, 438 drums, 11 gas cylinders and 28,046 cubic yards of soil were excavated and disposed of off site. In addition, over 3,500 gallons of bottled water were supplied to residents whose potable wells were initially believed to have been potentially impacted by site-related contamination.

Since initiation of operation in September 2010, the groundwater extraction and treatment system has treated approximately 823 million gallons of contaminated groundwater. In addition, approximately 35,000 tons of PCB-contaminated soil has been removed from the site.  Furthermore, 54 residences have been provided with an alternate water supply to ensure that they are not drinking contaminated groundwater.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is being addressed in two stages: immediate actions and a long-term remedial phase focused on cleanup of the entire site.

Immediate Actions: From August 1999 through March 2000, EPA dug up buried drums, cylinders, paint sludge wastes and the most heavily contaminated soil, and disposed of the material at an appropriate off-site disposal facility. In total, 438 drums, 11 gas cylinders and 28,046 cubic yards of soil were addressed. EPA monitored residential wells nearby during these activities and supplied 3,500 gallons of bottled water to six residences near the site. Sampling detected elevated levels of lead in their drinking water wells that was potentially site related. A study later found that the lead in these wells was related to household plumbing rather than the site.  Due to the presence of site-related volatile organic contaminants in groundwater, in 2003, EPA connected 36 residences near the site to water company supply lines to ensure a clean water supply.   In 2008 and 2010, EPA installed deeper drinking water wells in an uncontaminated aquifer for 7 additional residences threatened by site related groundwater contamination.

Long-term Cleanup: EPA did a focused feasibility study in 2000 to determine if treatment of contaminated groundwater near the site was needed while the site’s remedial investigation is underway. Results indicated that a site-related VOC plume consisting primarily of trichloroethene, 1,2-dichloroethene and vinyl chloride as well as petroleum-related VOCs and chlorinated benzene compounds extended east of the landfill. In September 2003, EPA selected an interim groundwater remedy in the site’s September 2003 Record of Decision, or ROD. It called for pumping and treatment of contaminated groundwater to control the migration of contamination off of the site property. The interim groundwater remedy started operating in September 2010. The interim groundwater extraction and treatment system was upgraded in 2012 to provide for the capture and treatment of contaminated groundwater downgradient of the site property. Operation of the groundwater extraction and treatment system is currently ongoing.

EPA started the site-wide remedial investigation in 2002. EPA collected surface soil, subsurface soil and groundwater samples to fully characterize the nature and extent of contamination that may be related to the site. EPA then did a feasibility study to evaluate cleanup technologies to address surface soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and VOC-contaminated groundwater. EPA selected a remedy for surface soil and groundwater contamination in the site’s September 2008 ROD. It called for the extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater, with biosparging of contaminated groundwater not captured by the extraction system to enhance aerobic degradation of contaminants, and the excavation and off-site disposal of PCB-contaminated soil.  The excavation and off-site disposal of PCB-contaminated soil was completed in 2012.  In addition, the extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater is currently ongoing at the site.  Furthermore, EPA is conducting long-term groundwater monitoring to determine whether biosparging of groundwater is still warranted.

In September 2017, EPA amended the September 2008 ROD in order to provide an alternate water supply to residences threatened by site-related groundwater contamination.  In 2018, one irrigation well and nine residential wells were replaced with deeper wells installed in an uncontaminated groundwater aquifer.

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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.

A groundwater classification exception area (CEA) has been established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to provide notice that groundwater in the vicinity of the site has been impacted by site-related contamination.

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Green Remediation

Green methods have been used during the construction and operation of the groundwater extraction and treatment system, to the extent practical.

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Enforcement Information

EPA has been unable to identify financially viable parties which are potentially responsible for contamination at the site.  Therefore, cleanup efforts at the site have been conducted using public funds.

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