Processing Magazine

Plan finalized to clean up contaminated groundwater beneath White Chemical site

July 31, 2012

NEW YORK — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to use bioremediation to clean up contaminated groundwater beneath the White Chemical Corp. Superfund site in Newark, N.J.

The groundwater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by past industrial activities at the site.

The White Chemical Corp. operated a chemical manufacturing facility at the site from 1983 to 1990 and was cited by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for multiple environmental violations before the company abandoned the facility. Thousands of drums were left behind, with many of them leaking hazardous chemicals. The site was added to the federal Superfund list of the country’s most hazardous waste sites in 1991.

After extensive study, EPA has concluded that it is not technically feasible to pump out and treat the contaminated groundwater because of the complex rock formations underlying the site. The depth, nature and variety of the rock formations would present extreme technical challenges.

Instead, the proposed plan calls for bioremediation, the injection of chemicals into the groundwater to promote the breakdown of the pollutants. The specific process to be used to inject the chemical additive will be determined by EPA as part of the design of the cleanup. Once the process has begun, EPA will collect samples to confirm that the bioremediation is effective. EPA is proposing to install additional monitoring wells to monitor the groundwater and to put into place restrictions that will prevent its use as a source of drinking water in the future.

To date, the EPA has spent about $20 million on the cleanup of the White Chemical site.