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Good news for Edgewater Superfund site, bad news for deer

Photo Credit: by Richard Criscione
Photo Credit: by Richard Criscione
Photo Credit: by Richard Criscione
Photo Credit: by Richard Criscione

SPECIAL REPORT: The long-term news is good for one of the East Coast’s most notorious Superfund sites — but not for several deer who’ve been roaming the former Quanta Resources property on River Road in Edgewater.

“They have been there for years, but the lot was off limits to humans and unfit to build on,” Richard Criscione of Cliffside Park told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “Now that it’s being cleaned up, they are running from one area to the other, with workers all around them. They have nowhere to go.”

PHOTO by Richard Criscione

Two months ago, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Honeywell International Inc. and 23 other participants to begin cleanup work aimed at redeveloping the former Quanta Resources site, at the foot of Gorge Road along the Hudson River.

However, Criscione said authorities told him there’s little that can be done.

“Trapping them and relocating them is costly and not likely,” despite the available woods and trails just up the road in Fort Lee, said Criscione, who lives just up Gorge Road from the site and has seen several generations of deer there.

If anything, he said he was told, authorities “would just go and shoot them!”

Dating back to the 1870s, the site was occupied by industries that processed coal tar, paving and roofing materials and waste oil, while also producing arsenic as a by-product.

New Jersey’s DEP closed Quanta in 1981 after finding storage tanks filled with PCB-laden oil. More than 9 million gallons of waste was removed, everything was torn down and a fence was erected around the 11-acre lot.

Richard Criscione

The federal EPA added the site to its Superfund list in 2002, as development spring up around it — such as the nearby City Place collection of stores, dwellings and eateries and a day-care center right next to the property.

“Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increase the risk of cancer,” federal authorities said.

The EPA supervised a series of emergency actions that included removing and disposing of millions of gallons of waste oil, sludge and contaminated water from the tanks, and cleaning and dismantling the emptied tanks and piping.

Then came a consent decree approved this past November that requires Honeywell to carry out the cleanup work under the EPA’s oversight. It’s expected to take two to three years and cost $78 million — all of it paid by those responsible for the contamination, federal authorities said.

Next: redevelopment.

“This agreement marks a major milestone toward finally cleaning up the industrial pollution legacy at the Quanta Site,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement holds those responsible for the pollution accountable for the cleanup, and brings us closer to the future redevelopment of this site for the benefit of the people of New Jersey.”

At the River Road site

Federal authorities say they plan to entomb much of the pollution. Solidifying an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of oily soil contaminated by arsenic into leak-proof underground blocks is much quicker — and less expensive — than hauling what they say amounts to 12,000 truckloads worth of poison that could pollute the air.

In addition to Honeywell International Inc., the other parties that have agreed to the consent decree are, for the most part, companies wastes were disposed of on the property.

They include: BASF Corporation; Beazer East Inc.; BFI Waste Systems of New Jersey Inc.; BorgWarner Inc.; Buckeye Pipe Line Co. LP; Chemical Leaman Tank Lines Inc. (now Quality Carriers); Colonial Pipeline Co.; Consolidated Rail Corp.; Exxon Mobil Corp; Ford Motor Company; General Dynamics Land Systems Inc.; Hess Corp.; Miller Brewing Co.; NEAPCO Inc.; Northrup Grumman Systems Corp.; Petroleum Tank Cleaners Inc.; Rome Strip Steel Co. Inc.; Quanta Resources Corp.; Stanley Black & Decker Inc.; Textron Inc.; and United Technologies Corp.

But what about the four-legged tenants?

“These deer are just two miles, at best, from freedom and living in an environment that could sustain them,” Criscione told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The problem is: How do you get them there safely?

“There are agencies that relocate animals, but who will pay for it? We need someone with a heart who can trap them so they can be with nature again.

“Something must be done to save these animals.”

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