EPA proposes change to cleanup plan at Imperial Oil Superfund site

MARLBORO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a change to its plan to address groundwater contamination at the Imperial Oil Superfund Site in the Morganville section of Marlboro.

In a press release issued on July 28, the EPA said data collected since the original cleanup plan was selected in 1992 indicate that natural processes are effectively reducing the levels of contaminants and that active treatment of the groundwater is not needed.

As a result, the agency plans to rely on natural processes to address the groundwater rather than extract and treat the groundwater as the original decision stated. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring and further studies will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy, according to the EPA.

“We are glad to see the groundwater data collected over the last nine years suggest that our previous cleanup actions were effective and contaminant levels are continuing to decrease,” EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez said.

“Under the Superfund program, our work here is reaping benefits and today the site is populated with trees, grass, restored wetlands, a pond and a bike path,” Lopez said.

The Imperial Oil facility off Tennent Road near Route 79 operated from the 1950s until 2007. Improper work practices and piles of waste from oil reclamation activities contaminated soil and sediment on the plant’s property, in adjacent wetlands, in the nearby Birch Swamp Brook and on several residential properties. Groundwater underlying the site was also contaminated, according to the press release.

The site cleanup was originally overseen by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP excavated soil, cleaned up part of the wetlands and sediment in the brook, and removed oil that was floating underneath the ground and on top of the groundwater.

The EPA took over the cleanup of the property in 2006 at the DEP’s request.

In 2008, the EPA completed the demolition of structures on the site, including all production, storage and maintenance buildings, as well as above-ground tanks, according to the press release.

In 2011, the EPA completed the excavation of the soil and the restoration of the industrial property. The excavated property areas were seeded and restored along with the restoration of the wetlands.

In 2013, the EPA completed the cleanup of the remaining wetlands and the contaminated sediments in Birch Swamp Brook, according to the press release.

As part of plan announced on July 28, the EPA is requiring periodic collection and analysis of groundwater samples to verify that the level and extent of contaminants are declining, and that people’s health and the environment are protected.

The EPA will conduct a review within five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup, according to the press release.

Asked for a comment on the matter, Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik said, “My history with the Imperial Oil site began when I toured the site as a teenager with my father, Mayor Saul Hornik.

“I visited the site again in 2008, soon after being elected mayor, and urged the EPA to complete the project. Shortly after, the site was a recipient of $25 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“The original plan included the possibility of a water treatment plant on the site to sufficiently reduce the levels of contaminants.

“I am pleased to hear that natural processes have been proven to be effective and that the site continues to receive the attention from the EPA it deserves.

“I look forward to this cleanup being completed so this parcel may one day return to productive use in our community,”  Hornik said.

A 30-day public comment period for the proposed plan will occur from July 28 through Aug. 28. The EPA will host a virtual public meeting on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. To register for the public meeting go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/imperial-oil-virtual-public-meeting-tickets-114604428932

For more information about the meeting, contact the community involvement coordinator, Pat Seppi, at Seppi.Pat@epa.gov or 212-637-3679.

Written comments regarding the EPA’s proposed plan may be mailed or emailed to Renee Gelblat, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10007-1866 or Gelblat.Renee@epa.gov. Comments postmarked on or before Aug. 28 will be accepted.

The EPA’s proposed plan for the site will be made available at www.epa.gov/superfund/imperial-oil