Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Feds Opting for Microbes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Feds Opting for Microbes

Article excerpt

After years of study, federal officials have decided how to clean up contaminated groundwater deep beneath the Scientific Chemical Superfund site in Carlstadt -- let bugs in the soil do the work.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to inject lactate -- produced by fermenting milk or vegetable sugars -- into the soil at the site along Paterson Plank Road to help promote the growth of naturally occurring microbes, which would attack cancer- causing solvents polluting the groundwater and reduce them to less toxic byproducts. A pilot study has already shown some success, EPA officials said.

The relatively new procedure, called enhanced anaerobic bioremediation, is being used increasingly at contaminated sites in New Jersey and across the country to break down such solvents as PCE and TCE.

In some cases soybean oil is injected; in others, lactate or molasses. These provide a food source for the microbes, which then use the solvents the way humans use oxygen, and break them down into carbon dioxide and other non-toxic substances.

The proposal, which the EPA will explain at a public meeting Thursday night, represents the final step in the cleanup of a site that was first added to the federal Superfund list in 1983.

"This is a long time coming," said Carlstadt Mayor William Roseman. "We have great interest in evaluating what we can do with the property. It's a prime location along the gateway to the Meadowlands. It has been a real albatross."

Carlstadt assumed ownership of the site in 1998 after the owner stopped paying taxes. The Scientific Chemical site, which covers 6 acres just north of The Meadowlands Racetrack and MetLife Stadium, was used from the 1940s until 1980 as a waste processing facility that accepted wastes for recovery and disposal. In 1980, a court order shut the site, and some company officials received fines and jail terms for illegally dumping hazardous waste. …

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