Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wayne Site Now Clean

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wayne Site Now Clean

Article excerpt

A property in Wayne marred for years by a four-story pile of thorium-laced soil that residents had considered a health threat and eyesore was officially removed from the Superfund list Tuesday.

The former W.R. Grace and Co. site, unused since 1971, underwent a $125 million cleanup over the past two decades, including removal of more than 135,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil -- the equivalent of 2,000 railroad cars. Wayne plans to open a dog park and playground on the site next spring.

The unusual removal of a site from the Superfund list comes in the same month that the federal Environmental Protection Agency added two more contaminated sites to the list in New Jersey. The state has 112 active Superfund sites, more than any state and a reflection of its heavy industrial past. The Wayne property, on Black Oak Ridge Road, is only the fourth North Jersey site to be removed from the list.

Nationally, there are 1,314 active Superfund sites, and 346 have been delisted since the program began in 1980. In New Jersey, 32 sites have been considered clean enough to be removed from the list. Three sites have been removed in North Jersey -- a Witco Chemical Corp. facility in Oakland, in 1995; a municipal well in Lodi contaminated with uranium, in 1998; and the Industrial Latex plant in Wallington, in 2003.

The Wayne site was delisted because it was "no longer a threat to public health and the environment," said Judith Enck, the EPA's regional administrator.

From 1948 to 1971, the W.R. Grace site was used to extract thorium and other elements from monazite ore. Grace was hired by the U.S. Department of Energy to purify thorium for government research on nuclear fuel for atomic weapons. After closing the plant, Grace decontaminated the property in 1974 to the standards in place then.

Residents for years called the site "that piece of property with the ugly tarp-covered dirt," said Neal Bellet, the Wayne township administrator. …

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