The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning to remove more than four million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a stretch of the Passaic River in New Jersey.
The bank-to-bank dredging will be followed by capping the bottom of the river, making the clean-up one of the biggest in the history of the EPA’s Superfund program.
“High concentrations of dioxin, PCBs and other contaminants in the lower eight miles of the Passaic River are a serious threat to the people who eat fish and crabs from this river,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator, in a statement. “The EPA’s proposed cleanup plan will result in a cleaner river that protects people’s health and increases the productive use of one of New Jersey’s most important natural resources and creates jobs during the cleanup. Doing less is not good enough for this river or the people who live along it,” she added.
A major source of dioxin in the river is pollution from the Diamond Alkali facility in Newark, New Jersey, the EPA claims. The production of Agent Orange and pesticides during the 1960s generated dioxin that contaminated the land and the river. In addition, approximately 100 companies are potentially responsible for generating and releasing dioxin, PCBs, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants into the river. The EPA said it will pursue agreements to ensure that the cleanup work proposed today be carried out and paid for by those responsible for the contamination at the site.
The EPA will accept public comments on its proposed plan from April 21 to June 20, 2014.