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Hazardous Waste and Site Remediation - Trenton, New Jersey (redirected from Hazardous Waste and Site Remediation (Trenton, NJ))

Page history last edited by Erik Snyder 5 years, 8 months ago

Contributor: Nina Alstrom

 

 

Goal Statement   


To increase awareness about the impact of hazardous waste on quality of life in a community, and to encourage safe, efficient, and cost-effective methods of contaminated site remediation in the Trenton community, in order to promote sustainable living conditions.

 

 

Scope of the Problem   


In 2010, New Jersey generated 22 million tons of solid waste and recycled 13.3 million tons—one of the state’s best recycling rates to date.[1] But of the 8.7 million tons not recycled, 2.1 million tons were incinerated in state, and 3.3 million tons were landfilled in state.[2] The burning and landfilling of waste can lead to groundwater pollution, poor air quality, land contamination, and other forms of environmental degradation. New Jersey has struggled with appropriate ways to handle waste, and political and social battles over where to locate and how to pay for waste disposal facilities have been historically contentious. The way the state deals with waste, particularly hazardous waste, must be acknowledged and remedied, as remediation plays a large role in the health and safety of a community such as Trenton.

 

The New Jersey Known Contaminated Sites (KCS) List includes former factory sites, landfills, locations of current or former leaking underground storage tanks, sites where chemicals or wastes were once routinely discharged, and places where accidents have resulted in spills and pollution.[3] There are 549 known active contaminated sites in Mercer County in need of remediation, and 137 of those are within or on the border of the City of Trenton.[4] Of those 137 sites, 129 of them are classified as C2, C3, or D level.[5] The C2 and C3 levels are associated with multiple site spills, high concentrations of complex and threatening contaminant discharge, and impacts to soils, groundwater, and potentially surface waters and drinking water resources as well.[6] The D level has the same conditions, but these sites are typically designated as Federal “Superfund” sites on the National Priorities List. 

 

The types of contaminants found at these sites vary widely, but one of the most common and harmful sources of contamination is lead. Children can be exposed from eating lead-based paint chips or playing in contaminated soil. In addition to being found at many known contaminated sites, lead can also be found in some water pipes inside homes, or pipes that connect homes to the main water supply pipe. Lead can also be found in the soils at and surrounding former manufacturing facilities.

 

Lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive systems, and exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in young children while also leading to negative cardiovascular and renal effects in adults.[7] The EPA has stated that lead poisoning is the top environmental health threat to children.[8] Research done by the New Jersey Department of Health and Isles, Inc. further found that 24 percent of Trenton kindergarteners entered school with lead poisoning in 2011.[9] Over the past 13 years, it is likely that approximately 40 percent of children in Trenton schools had lead levels that were affecting their ability to learn.[10] Children are the future in Trenton, and lead, among other toxins found at contaminated sites, can affect their mental and physical health and growth. Of seven environmental cases for lead presence reported in Trenton in 2014, none were remediated, and six are still listed as in need of investigation.[11] The process can be expensive and time-consuming, among other barriers, but site investigation is a crucial step. But even once investigation is complete, many property owners may not be able to afford the abatement. 

 

And of course, many other toxins other than lead that leak out from contaminated sites. Though the 34 landfills in Mercer County are listed by the state as ‘not open,’ only four of them have been properly closed.[12] The byproducts of both landfilling waste and not properly closing landfills can have serious health impacts on a community, such as worsening of asthma and breathing issues due to release of methane gas, an asphyxiate in nature. The largest anthropogenic source of methane gas emissions in New Jersey is landfills, and though some of these sites use energy recovery systems to capture and use the greenhouse gas as a renewable energy resource, many do not. This allows toxins to simply leak into the air, along with other waste residuals entering the water and land around a waste site. It is likely that there are more facilities in Trenton releasing unreported or underreported toxins and contaminants. 

 

Buildings that Trenton needs cannot be built on contaminated ground. Using more effective methods when identifying contaminated sites and throughout the cleanup process can be extremely beneficial to the environment and to the community. It is crucial for community members, officials, and those responsible for taking care of contaminated sites to be aware that it is not only the contaminated site that can affect public health, but the cleanup process as well. If contaminated sites are cleaned up efficiently and completely, the chances of toxins like lead leaking into the community will be much slimmer. Additionally, by keeping the environment in mind when taking care of these contaminated sites and following EPA-recommended procedures, the most can be made of Trenton’s land and building capacity. 

 

Probable Causes   


 

  • Economics
    • There simply is not enough funding in Trenton to consistently carry out all of the necessary cleanup methods in a timely manner for all of the contaminated sites 
    • State funding apparatuses sees other matters as more significant 
    • The processes themselves can be expensive and time-consuming
  • Previous inability to pass new policy/update policies
    • The Site Remediation Reform Act of 2009 was an important step forward in the world of hazardous cleanups, but only recently has it been enacted and enforced state-wide, and it has yet to be seen if the new regulations have increased the pace or efficiency of remediation in Trenton 
  • Lack of Awareness
    • Data available about contaminated sites and remediation is often hard to locate, manipulate, and understand 
    • Few know how to test their own homes for contaminants
    • Scientists and policymakers struggle to understand and address the alarm of citizens without fueling fears 

 

 

Past Policy   


  • The New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act of 1976
  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980
  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984
  • The Environmental Cleanup Responsibility Act (later replaced by the Industrial Site Recovery Act)
  • The Underground Storage Tank Act
  • The Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act of 1998

 

 

Current Policy   


  • The Site Remediation Reform Act of 2009 and Executive Order #140
    • Established a program for the licensing of Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) who have the responsibility to oversee environmental investigations and cleanups
    • Established mandatory time frames and affirmative obligations
    • The goal is to increase the pace of remediation, thus helping to decrease the threat of contamination to public health and safety and of the environment
    • In 2012, when SRRA became fully effective, remediating parties became required to use the services of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional and proceed with cleanup according to SRRA guidelines
  • Problems with the Site Remediation Reform Act of 2009
    • LSRPs are paid for by the party or individual with the contamination, and not by the state 
    • NJDEP can charge annual remediation fees even after the cleanup is complete
      • But individuals can hire environmental lawyers to help access public funds for the fees associated with remediation 
  • Electronic Waste Cleanup Days
    • Cleanups take place several times a year at various locations throughout Mercer County, with the goal of encouraging the proper and safe disposal of used electronics that might otherwise contribute to site contamination 

 

 

Policy Options Moving Forward   


  • EPA Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Methodology to Address the Environmental Footprint of Site Investigation and Cleanup[13]
    • EPA conducted multiple pilot studies for corrective/remedial action and provided detailed information on three successful studies overseen by EPA region nine
    • Developed as a means to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviors on the part of decision-makers and day-to-day staff involved with site cleanup
    • Designed to identify the most significant contributors to a project’s environmental footprint and help integrate associated reduction parameters into conceptual design, construction, and operation of the project
    • Guidelines designed for superfunds but can be applied to most contaminated sites
    • Five core elements
      • Reducing total energy use and increasing percentage of renewable energy
      • Reducing air pollutants and GHG emissions
      • Reducing water use and negative impacts on water resources
      • Improving materials management and waste reduction efforts
      • Protecting ecosystem services 

 

  • Site Investigation[14]
    • An investigation can occur at all points in the cleanup process, from initial site assessment through waste site closeout
    • Site investigations typically involve sampling of soil and groundwater and analysis of samples at offsite laboratories, but a green site investigation relies on information gained from a thorough preliminary assessment that identifies target areas and site conditions through minimally intrusive techniques
    • Initial best management practices for a green site investigation include:
      • Evaluating the feasibility of using a mobile laboratory
      • Scheduling activities for appropriate season to reduce delays caused by weather conditions and to save fuel needed for heating and cooling
      • Identifying local sources of energy-efficient machinery and alternative fuels
      • Establishing electronic networks for data transfers, team decisions, and document preparation
      • Attempting to integrate renewable resources
      • Systematic planning that helps identify the key decisions to be made and develop conceptual site models which combine analytical data with historical information 

 

  • Site Cleanup[15]
    • Seven general steps
      • Determining the goals and scope of the analysis, which vary with the remedial stage and site-specific factors 
      • Gathering information about design, construction, and operation of the site’s existing or anticipated remedy 
      • Quantifying the onsite materials and waste metrics, which account for the materials used, the recycled content of those materials, various wastes generated, and portions of the waste that are recycled or reused
      • Quantifying the onsite water metrics, which consider the source and amount of water used on site as well as the fate of water after use
      • Using the combined information to quantify energy metrics and air metrics, which jointly consider the total amount of energy used (including the portion from renewable resources) and the air emissions associated with energy usage, onsite activities, and offsite support
      • Qualitatively describing ecosystem services that are affected during remedy implementation, and
      • Presenting results of each previous step and the overall results of analysis
    • EPA selected 22 specific metrics for estimating the project footprint, available on the webpage

 

  • Phytoremediation
    • Case Study: Magic Marker Site 

The Magic Marker site was located at 467 Calhoun Street, in a densely populated neighborhood and across from an elementary school.[16] The 7-acre site housed a commercial battery factory and then Magic Marker Industries over several decades, discharging hazardous contaminants such as lead into the soil and groundwater for decades, so in 1997, the NJDEP requested that the EPA conduct an investigation.[17] The EPA declared the site a superfund and began cleanup. As of today, the site has been completely remediated and turned into mixed income housing.[18] The Magic Marker Site has become a national model for brownfield development, given Isles’ ability to educate and involve community members about site contamination and reuse of a contaminated site. This cleanup followed the aforementioned EPA-style procedures of research, planning, and utilizing local efforts.

    • Phytoremediation at the Magic Marker Site 

An independent research organization, Phytotech, conducted an experimental cleanup at the site.[19] They used Indian mustard plants to remove some of the lead and heavy metals from the contaminated soil in a process called phytoremediation—an innovative, emerging environmental cleanup technology that uses plants to remove pollution from soil and water.[20] The process, while it did not remove all of the lead from the soil, was successful in removing a large amount of lead from the topsoil, where most of the lead existed.[21]

    • Phytoremediation in the Future 

Phytoremediation is extremely low cost, has minimal site restraints, and even leaves behind plants with a pleasing appearance that can help spread awareness of the contamination and the remediation. Excavation and disposal of contaminated soil costs millions of dollars, and phytoremediation can be up to 1,000 times cheaper. This innovative method also reduces the amount of waste at the end of the process. Other plants such as Vetiver grass, sunflowers, and pumpkin seeds are now being used and studied for phytoremediation purposes all throughout the country. EDTA can also be introduced into the process, acting as a chelating agent that sticks to the lead and hastens the process to yield better and quicker results. Phytoremediation is also applied to other contaminants besides lead; for instance, several cities have begun to use Poplar trees as a way to remove volatile organic compounds from the air. 

 

Site remediation is about health, safety, and economic benefit. By identifying contaminated sites early and cleaning them up efficiently, we can significantly reduce the chance of lead making its way into children’s bloodstreams, and of other contaminants such as methane gas affecting the health of Trenton residents. Phytoremediation is certainly an interesting option to explore, given its low cost and various application for remediating contaminated sites. Taking these suggestions into consideration can keep the environment safe and increase land and building capacity in Trenton.

 

 

Key Organizations   


  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection NJDEP 
    • Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste
    • Bureau of Recycling and Hazardous Waste Management 
    • Site Remediation Program 
  • New Jersey Department of Health
  • United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency 
  • Mercer County Improvement Authority
  • Association of New Jersey Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators
  • Isles, Inc.
  • Phytotech, Inc. 
  • Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc.
  • New Jersey Clean Energy Program  

 

 

Works Cited    


  1. “Solid Waste and Recycling.” Environmental Trends Report. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. October 2012. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  2. "Solid Waste and Recycling.” Environmental Trends Report. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  3. “City of Trenton Natural Resource Inventory.” Delaware Valley DVRPC Regional Planning Commission. February 2015. Accessed April 10, 2015. 
  4. “City of Trenton Natural Resource Inventory.” Accessed April 10, 2015.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. “Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.” New Jersey Department of Health. July 28, 2014. Accessed April 14, 2015. 
  8.  “Human Health and Lead.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. November 25, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2015.
  9. Marty Johnson and Elyse Pivnick. “Lead Poisoning Makes it Hard to Do Well.” NJ.com. September 3, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2015. 
  10. Marty Johnson and Elyse Pivnick. “Lead Poisoning Makes it Hard to Do Well.” Accessed April 20, 2015.
  11.  “Childhood Lead Poisoning in New Jersey: Fiscal Year 2014.” New Jersey Department of Health. Accessed April 20, 2015. 
  12. “New Jersey Sites.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. April 30, 2015. Accessed May 1, 2015.
  13.  “Green Remediation Best Management Practices.” The Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. United States Environmental Protection Agency. March 2012. Accessed April 20, 2015. 
  14. “Green Remediation Best Practices: Site Investigation.” The Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. Accessed April 20, 2015.
  15. Ibid.
  16. “Magic Marker Site Fact Sheet.” Region 2 Superfunds. United States Environmental Protection Agency. October 5, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2015. 
  17. “Magic Marker Site Fact Sheet.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed April 25, 2015.
  18. “The Magic Marker Site.” Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc. 2015. Accessed April 25, 2015. 
  19. “Magic Marker Site Fact Sheet.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed April 25, 2015.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.

 

 

Bibliography    


 

“City of Trenton Natural Resource Inventory.” Delaware Valley DVRPC Regional Planning 

Commission. February 2015. Accessed April 10, 2015.

 

 “Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.” New Jersey Department of Health. July 28, 2014. 

Accessed April 14, 2015. 

 

“Green Remediation Best Management Practices.” The Office of Superfund Remediation and 

Technology Innovation. United States Environmental Protection Agency. March 2012. 

Accessed April 20, 2015.

 

“Green Remediation Best Practices: Site Investigation.” The Office of Superfund Remediation 

and Technology Innovation. United States Environmental Protection Agency. March 

2012. Accessed April 20, 2015.

 

“Human Health and Lead.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. November 25, 

2013. Accessed April 14, 2015. 

 

Johnson, Marty and Elyse Pivnick. “Lead Poisoning Makes it Hard to Do Well.” NJ.com. 

September 3, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2015. 

 

 “New Jersey Sites.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. April 30, 2015. Accessed 

May 1, 2015.

 

“Magic Marker Site Fact Sheet.” Region 2 Superfunds. United States Environmental Protection 

Agency. October 5, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2015.

 

“Solid Waste and Recycling.” Environmental Trends Report. New Jersey Department of 

Environmental Protection. October 2012. Accessed March 20, 2015.

 

“The Magic Marker Site.” Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc. 2015. Accessed April 25, 

2015.

 

 

 

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