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U.S. EPA proposes final pollution cleanup plan for American Cyanamid site

Goal is getting Pfizer-owned land in New Jersey back into use

by Cheryl Hogue
May 25, 2018


Photo shows two flooded rectangular areas adjacent to a wooded area.
Credit: U.S. EPA
The American Cyanamid Superfund site in New Jersey flooded in 2011 during Hurricane Irene.

After more than three decades of cleaning up pollution from a long-closed chemical factory owned by Pfizer, the U.S. EPA has finally proposed a plan to finish remediating the site.

The proposal, announced on May 23, sets out how remaining pollution would be removed from the former American Cyanamid site in Bridgewater Township, N.J. Estimated to cost $74 million to implement, the proposal calls for excavating and removing water from more than 42,000 m3 of soil and clay polluted with acid tars and other chemicals. The cleanup will involve treating about 8.7 million liters of contaminated liquid, EPA says. EPA does not give a timeline for the project.

Pfizer, which owns the land and is legally liable for cleanup costs, says it’s pleased about the announcement and looks forward to evaluating the details of the proposal.

The site was home to a now-demolished plant once owned by the defunct conglomerate American Cyanamid, which manufactured chemicals and pharmaceuticals for more than 90 years. Waste disposed in ponds at the facility tainted soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds, including benzene, and metals. In 1983, EPA added the 233-hectare facility to its Superfund list of sites harboring hard-to-remediate hazardous wastes.

Previous cleanup efforts allowed EPA to remove a 57-hectare portion of the site from the Superfund list in 1998. Pfizer acquired the land and assumed responsibility for cleanup in 2009. Efforts to craft a final plan for pollution remediation at the site, which is located above an aquifer that is a source of drinking water, dragged on for years.

The New Jersey site’s remaining 176-hectare were among areas that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt targeted last December in an effort to pare down the nation’s list of Superfund sites by cleaning them up and getting them back into use.


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