NEWFIELD BOROUGH, NJ
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The Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. (SMC) site is located in Newfield, New Jersey. The 67.5-acre area was the location of a specialty plant where chromium alloy and other products were produced. Past disposal practices, including the release of processed wastewater, caused groundwater contamination. Soil is contaminated with heavy metals. Area residents have been connected to the public water supply. After initial actions to protect human health and the environment, site investigations and cleanup are ongoing.
Radiological contamination in a restricted area on the SMC facility is not part of the Superfund site and is being addressed by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), as authorized by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The restricted area is surrounded by a chain link fence with barbed wire and is posted with specific signage. Inside the perimeter fence is a storage area with slag and dusts containing low levels of radioactive isotopes generated during past facility operations. Further information about the environmental response actions to address the restricted area is available from NJDEP.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
Initial Actions: The PRP pumped and treated chromium- and VOC -contaminated groundwater from 1979 to 2014. The initial pump-and-treat system was designed to pump and treat 80 gallons per minute (gpm) of contaminated groundwater. In 1989, SMC built a new ion exchange treatment facility to pump and treat 400 gpm of contaminated groundwater. However, technical problems with the ion exchanger prevented the facility from operating at design capacity. In 1992, SMC installed an electrochemical treatment unit that effectively treated the hexavalent chromium groundwater contamination. TRC Environmental Corporation (TRC) and SMC entered into a contract effective January 11, 2006 by which TRC agreed to assume certain cleanup liability otherwise held by SMC for all contaminants at the site, with the exception of the contaminant perchlorate and radiological contamination.
Initially, NJDEP was directly overseeing the PRP-performed actions at the site, with EPA assistance. By letter dated September 2, 2008, EPA advised SMC that it was taking over from NJDEP as the lead agency for the work at the site. Subsequently, on April 28, 2010, an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) was entered into by EPA, SMC and TRC. The NRC-regulated slag pile is not included in the AOC.
An optimization study for OU1 submitted by TRC and approved by EPA in November 2010 concluded that the pump and treat remedy selected in the 1996 ROD had successfully reduced contaminants concentrations for chromium and trichloroethene, but that groundwater concentrations had reached asymptotic conditions (steady state) for over 10 years. The study also indicated that additional actions were required to expedite the OU1 remediation. These findings prompted the construction in 2011 of a new treatment plant using ion exchange to improve operating efficiencies and the advancement of a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of in-situ (in place) remediation technologies to expedite groundwater cleanup. An in-situ pilot program conducted at the site included extensive studies, including small scale injections and large scale injections. Because in-situ technologies can foster conditions suitable for monitored natural attenuation (MNA), a detailed MNA study was also initiated in conjunction with the in-situ pilot treatability program. The pilot program has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the chromium and VOC concentrations in the groundwater plume.
Regulated Slag Pile: In June 2006, SMC submitted a Decommissioning Plan to NRC for review. The plan outlined SMC’s proposal to decommission the slag pile by capping the radioactive material on-site. In 2007, EPA completed its technical review of the plan and provided its input to the NRC. In accordance with a federal ruling in 2014, SMC is now being regulated by the NJDEP’s Bureau of Environmental Radiation under license number 517488-RAD130001. A new Draft Decommissioning Plan was submitted by SMC to which DEP has provided comments for SMC’s response. In January 2017, NJDEP approved the decomissioning plan. The decommissioning plan calls for the removal of approximately 50,000 tons of slag and baghouse dust containing low levels of radioactivity from the site.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The site is being addressed in four stages: initial actions and three long-term remedial phases focused on cleanup of the groundwater contaminant plume, and soil and sediment contamination at the SMC facility. NJDEP is also working with SMC to address the low-level radioactive waste material.
The initial treatment of contaminated groundwater has reduced the threat to human health and the environment by mitigating migration of contaminated groundwater while studies leading to the final selection of cleanup technologies for the site are taking place.
Groundwater Plume: SMC, the site’s Potentially Responsible Party (PRP), completed a study of the chromium contaminant plume. During this study, in addition to chromium, sampling detected volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination in groundwater underneath and downgradient of the facility. NJDEP, in consultation with EPA, selected the remedy for the site’s groundwater contaminant plume in a September 1996 Record of Decision, or ROD. It called for modification of the existing groundwater remediation system to provide for the complete capture and treatment of groundwater contamination, the installation of an air stripper to remove VOCs, and the incorporation of the electrochemical unit into the remedy to remove metals. Further delineation was conducted to fully define the extent of chromium and VOC contamination.
EPA is addressing the site using three separate components called operable units (OUs).
OU1 Work included a supplemental remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) to address the delineation and cleanup of all contaminants, except perchlorate, found in groundwater and includes all activity necessary to complete the supplemental investigation study and, if necessary, a remedial design of the existing selected remedy set forth in the 1996 ROD. The supplemental RI for OU1 was conducted between October 19 and December 7, 2010. The primary purpose of the OU1 supplemental RI was to delineate the downgradient extent of chromium and volatile organic compounds, primarily trichloroethene, in groundwater. The OU1 supplemental investigation report was approved by EPA in February 2014. A ROD Amendment was issued on September 30, 2015 changing the existing pump-and-treat remedy to in-situ remediation, monitored natural attenuation, institutional controls, long-term monitoring and five-year reviews.
OU2 Work included a supplemental RI/FS to address the completion of a full characterization of the nature and extent of the all contaminants, except perchlorate, found in the soil, surface water and sediment at the site, and completion of the development and evaluation of potential remedial alternatives. The supplemental RI/FS for OU2 was conducted in January 2012. The results of the RI/FS are documented in the April 2013 RI report and the May 2014 FS report. A ROD for OU2 was issued on September 25, 2014. The OU2 ROD selected capping facility soils, excavating sediments from the Hudson Branch and institutional controls. An Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for the OU2 Remedial Design was signed on March 10, 2015. The final design for the OU2 remedy is being reviewed by EPA. A legal agreement was signed with Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corporation on November 16, 2016 to perform a cleanup of the contaminated soil, sediment, surface water and a modified cleanup measure for the groundwater. The OU2 RA is expected to be initiated in summer 2017.
OU3 Work includes a supplemental RI/FS to address the completion of a full characterization of the nature and extent of the perchlorate contamination found in any media at the site and completion of the development and evaluation of potential remedial alternatives. The initial phase of the OU3 remedial investigation to delineate the perchlorate contamination in soil, sediments, surface water and groundwater was conducted between October and December 2009. A second round of groundwater sampling was completed in September 2010 and the installation of one additional monitoring well was completed in April 2011. The OU3 human health risk assessment was submitted and was approved by EPA. The remedial investigation report is being finalized by TRC to address EPA's comments.