The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that they have finalized changes to their groundwater remediation plans for the contaminated Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. site in Newfield and Vineland, New Jersey. According to a press release from EPA.gov, the changes will update the plan that’s been in place since 1996 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, who controlled responsibility of the site at the time.
While that system involved groundwater remediation equipment pumping the contaminated water out and treating it, the new plan calls for a newer approach by using non-hazardous additives to add to the groundwater that will break down the contaminants. This should allow the contaminants to decline naturally. They will also cap about 1.3 acres of contaminated sediment in the area, according to NJ.com.
The site became polluted over the course of about 50 years, from 1955 to 2006, when ore and metal processing that took place there left hexavalent chromium and volatile organic compounds in the groundwater. Although the groundwater at this location does not present an immediate threat to drinking water because local residents have access to a municipal water source, these contaminants are known to cause serious nervous system damage and the potential for cancer.
The main reason for changing remediation systems was due to contaminant levels stagnating rather than continuing to decrease under the the pump-and-treat model. After numerous studies and research into new treatment methods, the EPA found that adding non-hazardous additives and allowing groundwater to naturally treat itself in a way can be extremely effective and an overall more efficient way of going about the site’s treatment process.
The EPA will continue to regularly monitor and maintain the treatment project at the site to ensure success. They will also perform extensive reviews of the progress and status of the cleanup efforts at least every five years.