Home Voorhees News EPA scheduled to decide cleanup method for Kirkwood Lake in 2018

EPA scheduled to decide cleanup method for Kirkwood Lake in 2018


Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency say they have a target for when they hope to reach a “Record of Decision” regarding what method of remedy will be used for the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek Superfund site, including the cleanup of contamination in Voorhees’ Kirkwood Lake.

However, the EPA’s target date for that decision is slated for 2018.

That was the latest news out of an EPA-hosted public information session at the Gibbsboro Senior Center on Jan. 20 regarding the Sherwin-Williams /Hilliards Creek site and related Superfund sites.

The meeting was presented as a general information session for concerned citizens, meant to given background history and the status of the area sites and waterways contaminated by lead and arsenic from a former paint and varnishing manufacturing plant located in Gibbsboro and purchased and operated by Sherwin-Williams from the 1930s until 1977.

The 2018 designation puts the Sherwin-Williams /Hillards Creek site, and Kirkwood Lake, last on the priority list of the multiple Sherwin-Williams related area Superfund sites to have a cleanup method decided by the EPA. According to EPA Remedial Project Manager Ray Klimsak, the EPA and Sherwin-Williams will first prioritize cleanup method decisions for specific Gibbsboro, Lidenwold and Voorhees residential sites to mitigate any danger to those living adjacent to the other areas that will eventually undergo cleanup directly.

After a method of cleanup is decided for residential sites, cleanup methods will be decided for sites in an order so cleanup at one site doesn’t then cause recontamination at another site lower down the waterway.

After a cleanup method of the residential properties is decided, cleanup method decisions will start at the Route 561 Gibbsboro dump site once used for disposal activities, then the Gibbsboro United States Avenue burn site once used for landfilling of wastewater material from former plant operations, then the former Gibbsboro manufacturing plant itself and then finally the Sherwin-Williams /Hillards Creek site with Kirkwood Lake.

“We’ve said that the target dates for doing those things is: 2015 is residential, 2015 is also the dump site for a proposed plan, 2016 is the burn site, 2017 is the former paint plant and 2018 is Hillards Creek-Kirkwood Lake,” Klimsak said.

However, Kirkwood Lake Environmental Committee member Alice Johnston, who was also present at the meeting, said she wasn’t optimistic about the timeframe laid out by the EPA and Sherwin-Williams.

“They keep holding these meetings and nothing gets done,” Johnston said. “Nothing moves. The residential properties, they were supposed to be done, they were supposed to have ROD (Record of Decision), they moved it, spring to the end of July, then to the end of September, and now they’re saying some time in 2015. This is what’s been going on for 39 years.”

Johnston has similar feelings toward the 2018 date for the decision to be reached regarding the method of cleanup for Kirkwood Lake.

“In 2018 is when they say they’ll get to it, not to clean it, just to start the ROD,” Johnston said. “You know what, if they’re saying 2018, it’s not going to be before 2025. I can guarantee you that. That’s how they’ve been running.”

According to Klimsak, for Kirkwood Lake, the EPA has sampled sediments, surface water, bore water, and it’s known there are concentrations of lead and arsenic above the state background.

“In terms of the cleanup overall, it would be at the RI/FS (Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study) stage. It’s beyond the PASI (Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection), we’ve now said it’s part of the overall superfund site, that not only means that it’s contaminated, it also means it’s on Sherwin Williams, it’s now on their plate to address it.”

Klimsak said he wasn’t able to comment on cleanup proposal negotiations going on outside of the EPA between Camden County, the owners of Kirkwood Lake and Sherwin-Williams, in which the county is proposing to dredge Kirkwood Lake and share costs with Sherwin-Williams.

“What we’ve done is that we’ve heard criticism from the public, so we’ve tried to address their request for putting timelines on our various cleanups,” Klimsak said.

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