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Celebration of the EPA takes place at Old Bridge site

OLD BRIDGE — The site of the cleanup at the Margaret’s Creek sector of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site was fitting as elected officials and the New Jersey Sierra Club commemorated the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week.

The EPA was created on July 9, 1970 through bipartisan efforts during President Richard Nixon’s administration to protect the nation’s air and water quality and prevent various forms of pollution. The EPA has played a leading role in protecting public health and combating climate change, taking action on chemical safety and working toward a sustainable future.

On July 10, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-New Jersey); members of the New Jersey Sierra Club; Dave Pringle, New Jersey campaign director of Clean Water Action; and local officials gathered at the Margaret’s Creek cleanup site, one of the state’s 118 Superfund sites.

In October 2016, Pallone announced $7 million in funding from the EPA to begin cleanup at Margaret’s Creek, one of the three sectors of the overall site which spans 47 acres.

The Laurence Harbor seawall, which makes up part of the site, was reported to have had metal slag from blast furnace bottoms deposited along the beachfront in the late 1960s and early 1970s. About 2,500 feet of the seawall had been impacted.

As a result of urging by Pallone, the Raritan Bay Slag site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 2009. The site spans from the waterfront in Old Bridge to the waterfront in Sayreville.

The EPA began to clean areas within the Margaret’s Creek sector where battery casings, slag and lead contaminated soil and sediment had been identified in April. The cleanup is expected to take approximately eight months from start to finish. The contamination will be excavated and disposed of offsite.

“For decades the EPA enjoyed bipartisan supports for its mission to ensure a safe, healthy and clean planet for our children and grandchildren,” Pallone said. “I have been proud to help strengthen the EPA, strengthen programs for environmental cleanup and support initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan that helps curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

Pallone said with current concerns for the future of the EPA with proposed budget cuts, officials must recommit to the EPA and fight for all that it represents.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the budget cuts could be detrimental to clean up sites like Margaret’s Creek.

Pallone and the Sierra Club have been strong supporters of the EPA and initiatives such as its Superfund and Brownfields Programs, which were established to address the country’s most hazardous waste sites and protect public health and the environment.

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