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Dirty Soil

Could a Shamong property be affected if the EPA’s budget is cut

There is a 43-acre piece of land at 331 Tuckerton Road in Shamong that is called the Ewan Property. Right now, there isn’t much going on with it. More than 40 years ago, the site was a lot more active. Trucks would come in and dump items that would not only eventually threaten the environment but a source of water that is used for the area’s agriculture and drinking water.

Fast forward to the present day and the area is clean and monitored. However, the monitoring aspect of the property may be changing. It is not because there is a new round of waste dumping going on. It has to do with what is going on in Washington, D.C.

The situation concerning the Ewan Property dates back to 1974. According to a civil action complaint that was filed in 2007 by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the administrator of the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund to recoup costs of the cleanup, the property, which was owned at the time by Verna Dale Donnelly, was used as an industrial waste disposal facility for businesses. Some of the companies that used the property included the former Chrysler Motors Corporation, the Lightman Drum Company and A&B Drum Company, all of which were listed as defendants in the civil action complaint. In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report that 5,000 to 8,000 drums, byproducts of drums and contaminated materials were found on the property. In the samples that were taken, lead, barium, copper and even tetrachloroethene, a chemical classified as a carcinogen, were found in the soil and groundwater.

The cleanup of the area was approached on a couple of fronts. The first was removing the contaminated drums away from the property. Another step was moving the contaminated soil away from the site and replacing it with clean soil. The final step was to make a groundwater treatment and re-infiltration system on the site and monitoring the property to ensure everything remained at a safe level. The soil and groundwater have remained at safe levels on the property for a majority of the time. There has been one monitored well (TC-32) that has fluctuated close to a level of concern, but treatments have been made to the area and the problems have been fixed.

“All cleanup actions for this Superfund site have been completed,” EPA Public Information Officer Elias Rodriguez said. “The soil and groundwater cleanups are protective of human health and the environment. The site is currently undergoing long-term groundwater monitoring.”

But Superfund sites such as the Ewan Property may be affected by reportedly significant EPA budget cuts.

According to the EPA’s Third Five-Year Review Report, the site has testing done on it regularly. Six wells are sampled once a month, 48 of the wells are tested twice a year, and 60 of the wells are checked every two and a half years. If the EPA funding would not be there for monitoring the levels of contamination, the burden may fall upon the state or the township to pick up where the EPA left off. According to the 1989 EPA Records of Decision regarding the Ewan Property, the original estimated operation and maintenance costs the site was approximately $19 million.

“We are in the early stages of a long budget process, and final funding levels will not be settled until Congress acts,” Rodriguez added. “The agency will work with Congress as they review the president’s request.”

A lot can happen between now and when the final passage of the country’s budget. Although there is no guarantee that amount of monitoring that occurs at the Ewan Property will change, a lot of people in the township will be looking to see what will happen at the EPA and how it affects Shamong.

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