RARITAN BAY SLAG
OLD BRIDGE TWP/SAYREVILLE, NJ
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The Raritan Bay Slag site is located in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge and in Sayreville, New Jersey. The Laurence Harbor seawall, which makes up part of the site, was reported to have had metal slag from blast furnace bottoms deposited along the beachfront in the late 1960s and early 1970s. About 2,500 feet of the seawall have been impacted. Elevated concentrations of lead, antimony, arsenic and copper have been identified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) along the seawall near the area where the processing byproducts were deposited. While site investigations within the seawall area were being conducted, another area of concern was identified on the Sayreville waterfront. This area consists of the western jetty at the Cheesequake Creek inlet and waterfront area. At the request of NJDEP, EPA evaluated the Raritan Bay Slag site for a short-term cleanup action under the federal Superfund program. In March 2009, the 47-acre property associated with Margret’s Creek was also included as part of the site because slag and battery casings were identified.
The overall site is approximately 1.5 miles in length and consists of the waterfront area between Margaret’s Creek and the areas just beyond the western jetty at the Cheesequake Creek Inlet. For ease of discussion and reference locations, the site has been divided into three sectors based on the type of environment and proximity to source areas: these sectors include the Seawall sector, the Jetty sector, and the Margaret’s Creek sector. Waves in Raritan Bay flow predominantly from the east and northeast (Atlantic Ocean), and contaminants from the Seawall and Margaret’s Creek sectors tend to migrate westward. Currents near the Jetty sector are complex due to strong tidal currents within Cheesequake Creek. This complicated environment dictates a specific sequencing of cleanup activities to prevent recontamination of remediated areas. The sequence for site remediation to prevent recontamination is as follows: the Margaret’s Creek sector; the Seawall sector; then the Jetty sector.
The primary sources of contamination are slag from a lead reclamation process and battery casings. The seawall is up to 80 percent slag. Battery casings were found in the upper two inches of depositional zones along the Seawall sector. Buried slag was observed in test excavations on the upland side and the eastern end of the seawall. . The Western Jetty and adjacent areas contain slag and some battery casings. The western side of the Western Jetty and the adjacent shoreline are comprised of 80 to 90 percent slag. The prevailing currents in the vicinity of the Western Jetty promote sediment deposition on the western side of the jetty and transport of sediment into Raritan Bay. Margaret’s Creek contains visible slag waste piles in upland areas of the Creek. Crushed battery casings were also observed scattered in upland areas of Margaret’s Creek. No slag or battery casings were observed in the wetland sediment.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
In September 1972, a local government official advised NJDEP that lead-bearing waste material was being disposed of along the Laurence Harbor beachfront on Raritan Bay.
In 2007, NJDEP found high levels of lead along the southern shoreline of the Raritan Bay adjacent to the Old Bridge Waterfront Park. As a result of these findings, NJDEP worked with Old Bridge officials to notify the public about health concerns stemming from the lead waste material and restricted access through signs and some fencing.
On April 24, 2008, EPA received a request from NJDEP to evaluate the Laurence Harbor seawall for a removal action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). EPA collected samples at the site in September 2008 as part of an Integrated Assessment. The purpose of this sampling event was to determine whether further action under CERCLA was needed. On November 3, 2008, NJDEP forwarded an amended request to include the Western Jetty along the Cheesequake Creek Inlet as part of the overall site. As a result, sampling included the collection of soil, sediment, water, biological, and slag samples from along the seawall in Laurence Harbor, the Western Jetty at the Cheesequake Creek Inlet, the beaches near these two locations, and the developed portion of the park. EPA and NJDEP analytical results determined that significantly elevated levels of lead and other heavy metals are present in the soils, sediment, and surface water in and around both the seawall in Laurence Harbor and the Western Jetty at the Cheesequake Creek Inlet.
At EPA’s request, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), evaluated the analytical data from the samples collected at the site. Their findings led to the conclusion that, due to the elevated lead levels, a public health hazard exists at the seawall in Laurence Harbor, the beach between the western end of the seawall and the first jetty, and the Western Jetty at the Cheesequake Creek Inlet, including the waterfront area immediately west of the inlet (ATSDR 2009). As a result of this determination, EPA conducted a removal action to restrict access to these areas by installing permanent fences and posting signs, and provided public outreach to inform residents and those using these areas of the health hazard that exists.
In March 2009, the 47‐acre property associated with Margaret’s Creek was also included in the overall site. The “Proposed Rule” recommending the addition of the site to the NPL was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2009. The “Final Rule” adding the site to the NPL was published in the Federal Register on November 4, 2009.
September 2010 through June 2011 EPA conducted a remedial investigation (RI)/feasibility study (FS) for the site. EPA issued a Record of Decision on May 23, 2013 selecting the final remedy for the site.
September 2014, EPA’s Removal Program initiated work on the excavation of battery casings in the Margaret’s Creek sector of the site, as part of the Superstorm Sandy response. It was determined that, as a result of Superstorm Sandy, the battery casings were redistributed/exposed and were now available for exposure to people in this sector, which poses a potential risk. In May 2016, the Removal Program completed the removal of surface battery casings in the sector.
December 2015, EPA initiated a Remedial Design for Margaret’s Creek using federal funds. The final design was completed January 2017. The remedial action for the Margaret’s Creek Sector was completed September 2018. The remedy called for excavation and/or removal of slag, battery casings, and associated wastes; contaminated soil and sediment; and monitoring of surface water. Impacted wetland areas were restored and will be monitored to ensure growth. The actual final estimated cost is expected to be approximately $8,000,000, which is less than the ROD estimate of approximately $14,200,000 for this area, primarily due to a smaller area requiring excavation than anticipated in the ROD.
Separate remedial designs for both the Seawall and Jetty Sectors have been initiated, with the goal of starting the remedial action at the Seawall Sector and then the Jetty Sector as soon as possible after completion of work at the Margaret’s Creek Sector.
The Seawall Sector remedial design was initiated May 2017, also using federal funding. Predesign sampling at the Seawall Sector was completed this summer, July 2018. The remedial design for the Seawall Sector is in progress. Completion is anticipated December 2019.
What Is the Current Site Status?
September 2016, approximately $7,000,000 of federal funding was awarded to the Region to initiate the Remedial Action for Margaret’s Creek. The Superfund State Contract was signed in July 2016. The remedial action contract was awarded in September 2016 and field work began in November 2016.
Completion of the Remedial Action for Margaret’s Creek was September 2018.