Bound Brook's Contaminated Soil is Coming to Keasbey

The dirt is to be dumped on an already contaminated site that will hold a waterfront park - and a gas powered power plant due by 2015.

What's not good enough for Bound Brook is good enough for , or at least for the section of the township. 

Forty thousand cubic yards of soil contaminated with low levels of benzo(a)pyrene, a highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon found in coal tar, are being trucked from Bound Brook for use as fill in a Keasbey brownfield Superfund site.

The Keasbey site is downriver on the Raritan from Bound Brook, where for years illegal piles of the contamined soil in the Brook Industrial Park had been clogging the river with silt and polluting it with runoff, said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokes Lawrence Ragonese.

"In Bound Brook, it was a huge, controllable pile of dirt in the flood zone. It's going to a place where it's wanted and where it can be used legitimately," he said. 

"It's a perfect fit."

After years of trying to get the Brook Industrial Park owners to move the dirt, the DEP announced on Monday they had reached an enforcement deal based on a 2011 Superior Court ruling that would finally get the dirt out of Bound Brook.

"Our message is simple: Mountains of illegally placed dirt such as this one in Bound Brook are not going to be tolerated any longer," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in Monday's statement.

The trucking of the contamined dirt began on Monday down Route 287 to the Keasbey section of Woodbridge. 

The destination is 180 acres of the former Nuodex site on Industrial Avenue where the soil is already saturated with "radiation and every contaminate you can imagine," said Bob Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, an environmental activist group. 

Just last year, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac presided over an on-site gathering at the Keasbey Nuodex site to announce that the Superfund site would eventually be the home of the new Woodbridge Waterfront Park.

About 120 contaminated acres would be cleaned up and repurposed for hiking trails, pedestrial boardwalks, and "scenic overlooks," according to a township statement. The park will also give Woodbridge residents access to the Raritan River, something the mayor said hasn't been possible in a century.

Fifty acres of the land are to be used for business development to create tax ratables and employment, McCormac had said.

From 25 to 40 acres of the Industrial Avenue site, though, will be taken up by a 700 megawatt natural gas power plant that is touted by its owners, the Woodbridge Energy Center, as a cleaner and more efficient environmental electricity generating facility.

The power plant, which will use diesel power as a back up, will have 250 ft. high stacks and is estimated to open in three years.

Jeff Tittel, executive director of NJ Sierra Club said the Bound Brook dirt needs to go to an appropriate landfill.

"In Woodbridge they have the concept that as long as you have a contaminated site, you can't make it worse," he said. "You may be making it worse because you're bringing in more contaminated materials."

The moving of the soil "is an acceptable use," Ragonese said. "It's under DEP oversight. This isn't a situation where you have to worry about contamination of the local water supply."

Part of the contamined site in Keasbey is being "digged up. They are taking out the worst parts of the contamination and constructing a slurry wall around the upper part of the site," Spiegel said.

"That area will be capped," he said, adding it "wasn't a perfect solution. It's acceptable. It's the best of a bad option."

Thursday night, Jamie Schleck, who said he is the owner of the Bound Brook site, posted a comment (see comments below), saying, "The levels of benzo[a]pyrene are actually only slightly above the NJ residential limits" and that the soil would also be acceptable in Pennsylvania "but it costs way too much to transport it there."

Spiegel said he had emailed the mayor's office "to ask for clarification."

"I want to see the soil data. I don't believe anything just because someone says it's good or bad. I want to see the data," he said.

McCormac did not return phone calls.

Jane March 09, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Low levels or high levels, we're still talking about a KNOWN carcinogenic AND mutagenic. This is just moving a problem from one location to another. All I know is I won't be using this waterfront park once it's built on this contaminated soil. What is wrong with the DEP? How do they even sleep at night? I will definitely be calling Mayor McCormac and my elected officials.
Can't shut me up March 10, 2012 at 01:35 AM
After speaking with MacCormac's office it's obvious he don't care. He has his own agenda. Call your state representatives and for added measure you and ALL your friends, neighbors, coworkers etc MUST call Mac and put a stop to this. Remind him that you all put him in office and can vote him OUT. 732-602-6015 or 732-634-4500
Bill Roberts March 10, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I'll believe that soil is safe when I hear it's being used at the Colonia Country Club.
Sharon Weingart March 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I completely agree with Catherine on this point. What is the point of exposing our children to these carcinogenic chemicals while they are developing? This is taking a risk with our future, a risk that I am personally not willing to take.
John Rodriguez May 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
"The levels of benzo[a]pyrene are actually only slightly above the NJ residential limits." Yeah well the water in my pool is only slightly above my daughters mouth and nose, so im sure she will be fine swimming unsupervised in it.


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