Clean-up work will be funded at Roebling Steel, Kauffman & Minteer sites

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FLORENCE – A sprawling Superfund site here will get clean-up funds from the country’s new infrastructure law, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The former Roebling Steel Co. complex, which occupied a heavily polluted site along the Delaware River, is one of seven “late” sites in New Jersey to obtain Superfund money from the law.

The EPA will also direct infrastructure funds to a second Superfund site in Burlington County – a five-acre property that once owned Kauffman & Minteer, a tanker operation in the Jobstown section of Springfield.

Overall, the EPA will spend $ 1 billion in infrastructure funds for previously unfunded work at 49 sites across the country. The agency will also speed up cleanup efforts at dozens of other sites across the country, he said.

“This funding will be transformational for New Jersey communities affected by toxic contamination,” Sen. Bob Menendez said in a statement Friday announcing the EPA’s spending plans.

He said the clean-up efforts “will also provide critical investments in communities of color and low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by the contamination inherited from abandoned Superfund sites.”

The EPA did not say how much money will be available for Burlington County sites.

The agency said Friday it is “finalizing the clean-up plans and preparing funding mechanisms to start construction work as soon as possible.”

The Roebling Steel site, which dates back to 1904, made steel and wire products before closing in the 1980s, according to an EPA account.

Parts of the site were then used for other industrial operations.

“The soil all around the site is contaminated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium,” said the EPA, which also noted the contamination of groundwater, wetlands and river sediments and streams.

The clean-up activities that began in the 1980s have already resulted in the mitigation of asbestos on the site, as well as the decontamination and demolition of several buildings.

Future efforts will focus on the contamination of groundwater and soil, as well as the need to demolish more buildings.

As part of the clean-up effort, the EPA restored the main gate to the complex.

The gatehouse and the adjacent village of Roebling, which was built to house employees of the steel company, “have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978,” the agency noted.

The Kauffman & Minteer property owned a transport company which, from 1960 to 1981, “dumped the sewage used to clean the interiors of its trucks into a drainage ditch and unpaved lagoon,” says an account of the EPA.

He notes that a dike broke at the Monmouth Road site in 1984, allowing sewage containing hazardous substances to drain onto a nearby property and into wetlands.

Pollution at the site also contaminated groundwater and threatened an aquifer described as “a major source of drinking water,” the EPA said.

The infrastructure funds will also pay for the rehabilitation of a third Superfund site in south Jersey, the former Kil-Tone pesticide plant in Vineland, the EPA said. This site is heavily polluted with arsenic and lead due to manufacturing activities from the late 1910s to the late 1930s.

Jim Walsh covers public safety, economic development, and other topics for the Courier-Post, the Burlington County Times, and the Daily Journal.

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