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CPG Expresses Disappointment with EPA Release of Focused Feasibility Study on The Lower Passaic River in Newark, NJ

Proposal Raises Many Substantial Issues that Should Be of Residents' Concern

NEWARK, N.J., April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lower Passaic River Study Area Cooperating Parties Group (CPG) is disappointed the EPA has released its Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) and Proposed Plan, a massive, impractical, and disruptive bank-to-bank remedy for the lower eight miles of the River. EPA's proposal raises a number of substantial issues that should cause concern among affected communities and residents. 

It is equally concerning that Tierra/Maxus/Occidental (TMO) - well-known, intentional polluters (including dioxin - the primary source of human health risk) - have unnecessarily delayed any meaningful action on the river for decades. TMO - the parties responsible for the Diamond Alkali site in Newark that produced the Agent Orange that contaminated the river - abandoned their obligation to restore the Passaic and are now attempting to hide. These companies are responsible for what is driving the clean-up of the contamination in the River today.

The FFS would take decades to implement in one of the most congested regions in the country, potentially disrupting and impairing economic growth and limiting recreational activity on the River for a generation.  EPA's recovery predictions show that the proposed bank-to-bank dredge may not even be protective of human health. 

The FFS only focuses on the lower eight miles of the River, ignoring contamination north of Newark through Clifton.  Residents should question if the River would be clean or look any different after this extensive dredging project is completed decades from now. 

The EPA must recognize a better alternative to the FFS that accomplishes the same objective of reducing human health risk without decades of dredging and delay, while improving recreational river use in the foreseeable future. When remediating complex river sediment systems, EPA guidance provides that an adaptive, iterative and targeted approach is preferred.

In response, the CPG is proposing an alternative "Sustainable Remedy" for the Lower Passaic River, targeting the lower 17 river miles with the highest contamination to quickly reduce risk. The work – taking just a few years to complete – would include community-based projects to further reduce health and environmental risk, resulting in the kind of holistic, adaptive approach the EPA encourages when remediating such complex river systems as the Lower Passaic. Cleanup goals would be set early, measured throughout, and adjustments made to achieve risk reductions."

Background:

The Lower Passaic River Cooperating Parties Group comprises 67 companies committed to a cleaner and healthier Lower Passaic.  The Group is completing the targeted removal of a mudflat at River Mile 10.9 in Lyndhurst, and is scheduled to submit the remedial investigation (RI) for the entire 17-mile Lower Passaic River study area to the EPA next year. It is questionable why the EPA would pursue a FFS of the lower eight miles just as the CPG is completing a comprehensive remedial investigation of the entire 17-mile study area. The CPG does not include Tierra Solutions, Maxus Energy or Occidental Chemical Corp.

Additional information about the Sustainable Remedy developed by the CPG is available at www.LowerPassaicCPG.com.  This information, and all supporting data, has been provided to the EPA, which has chosen not to analyze it as part of the FFS.

Yet according to the EPA's Contaminated Sediment Remediation Guidance for Hazardous Waste Sites: "Project managers are encouraged to use an adaptive management approach, especially at complex sediment sites to provide additional certainty of information to support decisions. In general, this means testing of hypotheses and conclusions and reevaluating site assumptions as new information is gathered." 

SOURCE The Lower Passaic River Cooperating Parties Group

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