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Companies reach deal with EPA to remove contaminated mud

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on June 18, 2012, that it had reached an agreement with 70 companies to remove approximately 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from the Passaic River in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. The sediment from the river is contaminated with high levels of PCBs, mercury, and dioxin. Work on removal and treatment of the contaminated sediment is scheduled to start in spring 2013.

In the agreement, the companies will help remove the contaminated material, install a protective cover over the excavated area, and take the materials to a lab for testing of any possible sediment treatment technologies. The dredged mud will be disposed of with EPA oversight.

"This agreement triggers actions that will reduce exposure of people and wildlife to the highly toxic contaminants in the Passaic River sediment and keep it from spreading to other parts of the river," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "Under the Superfund agreement, the companies responsible for the contamination will conduct and pay for the work with EPA oversight, rather than passing the costs on to taxpayers."

The project is expected to cost about $20 million, in addition to the costs of the EPA overseeing the cleanup work.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all hazardous waste operations must have a site control program in addition to a safety and health program to keep employees safe from contamination. These programs help to protect workers by identifying hazards and providing information on required safety products, including respiratory protection and protective clothing.

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