EPA Takes on Century-Old NJ Pesticide Plant

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency designated a new Superfund on Monday, taking aim at a New Jersey hazardous-waste site that has been polluted for nearly a century.
     Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, blasted that state’s Department of Environmental Protection for delaying action on the former Vineland, N.J., home of a pesticide manufacturer.
     “The failure to act all these years has even contributed to more contamination to spread and could lead to health problems since arsenic is a carcinogen,” Tittel said in a statement. “The DEP dropped the ball and we are glad the EPA has picked it up.”
     DEP spokesman Lawrence Hajna disputes this characterization, saying the state acted as soon as it learned that a licensed soil-remediation professional had found unexpected traces of arsenic and lead at another nearby site last year.
     “It was never on anybody’s radar,” Hajna said. “Back in the ’30s, nobody paid much attention to [Superfund] lists, obviously, or putting locations on a contaminated site list.”
     The Superfund site list first started in 1980. It contains more than 1,000 sites considered the most heavily polluted in the United States.
     At 113 sites, the Garden State has more Superfund locations than any other.
     Contamination of the newest site, at 527 East Chestnut Ave., dates back to the manufacturing of pesticides there from 1917 to 1926 by the Kil-Tone Co., according to a statement from regulators.
     A second owner, Lucas Kil-Tone Co., continued manufacturing pesticides at the property until at least 1933.
     The EPA took up the site upon referral from the New Jersey DEP, after the state’s 2014 investigation found high concentrations of arsenic and lead.
     Soil samples from 48 nearby residential properties led the EPA to confirm the contamination earlier this year.
     The EPA says pollution from the site may also have leached into the Maurice River as well as Union Lake, about 7 miles away.
     After advising residents this past April about the problem and how to reduce their exposure to the dangerous metals, the EPA held a public meeting in July.
     New Jersey told the EPA in July that it supported the inclusion of the Kil-Tone site to the Superfund list.
     Pest-killing sprays that Kill-Tone manufactured at the site included London Purple and Paris Green.
     Though Urban Sign & Crane owns the Kil-Tone property now, the site was also once home to Progresso Foods, according to reports.
     NJDEP spokesman Lawrence Hajna said the current owner shouldn’t be affected, as long as it is not using well water.
     Arsenic can lead to learning disabilities in children, who are more likely to absorb the contaminant, and lead poisoning has been linked to both learning disabilities and anemia in children.
     The public now has 60 days to comment on the Kil-Tone site’s addition to the Superfund list.

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