Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:


Health & Environment

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What Are the Risks at the Site?

Contaminated sediment of the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay poses a significant threat to people’s health and the health of wildlife that live in and along the river and bay. The primary risks are from eating contaminated fish and shellfish from the river. The Diamond Alkali Superfund site is considered “Human Exposure Not Under Control” because of the on-going ingestion of fish and shellfish caught from the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay complex. Mercury, PCBs, and dioxins are among the major contaminants found in fish and shellfish in the Lower Passaic River, its tributaries, and Newark Bay. It is prohibited to catch blue crab in these waters because they are so heavily contaminated. The state of New Jersey has for decades issued prohibitions on eating any fish or crab caught from the Lower Passaic River because of high contaminant levels in fish and crab tissue. These contaminants can be especially harmful to women considering pregnancy, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Children are also at risk of developmental and neurological problems if exposed to these chemicals.

EPA has already initiated activities to address this risk, including: working with the state of New Jersey to ensure the public is informed of the consumption prohibitions and advisories; on-going maintenance and evaluation of the containment remedy at the former Diamond Alkali facility, which will prevent further migration of contamination to the Passaic River and Newark Bay; issuance of the Record of Decision for the sediment of the lower 8.3 miles; and the continuation of the studies of the river and bay to identify the nature and extent of contamination at the site.



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Contaminant Information

View a full list of contaminants of concern for this site.

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Performance Measures

EPA uses performance measures to track environmental results at Superfund sites. If you have any questions or concerns about the measures at this site, please contact the site team members listed under Site Contacts.

Read more about Superfund Remedial Performance Measures.

Status at this
Superfund Site
What does this mean?
Human Exposure Under Control No Yes means assessments indicate that across the entire site:
  1. There are currently no unacceptable human exposure pathways; and
  2. EPA has determined the site is under control for human exposure.

No means an unsafe level of contamination has been detected at the site and a reasonable expectation exists that people could be exposed.

Insufficient data means that, due to uncertainty regarding exposures, one cannot draw conclusions as to whether human exposures are controlled, typically because:
  1. Response to the contamination has not begun; or
  2. The response has begun, but it has not yet generated information sufficiently reliable to evaluate whether there are currently any unacceptable human exposure pathways at the site.
Groundwater Migration Under Control Yes

Yes means EPA reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination. EPA concluded the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized and there is no unacceptable discharge to surface water. EPA will conduct monitoring to confirm that affected groundwater remains in the original area of contamination.

No means EPA has reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination, and the migration of contaminated groundwater is not stabilized.

Insufficient data means that due to uncertainty regarding contaminated groundwater migration, EPA cannot draw conclusions as to whether the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized.

Construction Complete No

Yes means the physical construction of the cleanup is complete for the entire site.

No means either physical construction is not complete or actions are still needed to address contamination.

Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use No Yes means:
  1. All cleanup goals affecting current and reasonably anticipated future land uses of the entire site have been achieved, so there are no unacceptable risks;
  2. All required land-use restrictions or other controls have been put in place; and
  3. The site has achieved Construction Complete status.

No means that one or more of these three criteria have not been met. However, a site listed as no may still have redevelopment occurring on portions of the site and may be eligible for additional redevelopment.

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