Township in talks with EPA regarding potential source of water contamination

A potential Superfund site in Cinnaminson could be the possible source of the township’s water contamination.

At the most recent meeting of Moorestown Township Council, Councilman Michael Locatell informed those in attendance the township has been approached by the EPA about installing monitoring wells across from the North Church Street Water Treatment Plant to investigate a potential Superfund site in Cinnaminson. He said the site could be the possible source of the township’s water contamination.

Resident Michael Babcock’s question during public comment was the impetus for the water discussion. Babcock inquired if the township had heard back from the DEP regarding a Request For Qualifications sent to it as part of the township’s efforts to go out for cost recovery.

Locatell responded it was in the township’s best interest that they did not move forward with the RFQ because the EPA approached the township about installing monitoring wells across from the North Church Street plant in Cinnaminson to see what the 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP) levels are at that location.

“It’s at the right depth; it’s the right contaminant,” Locatell said. “They’ll do monitoring wells, and we’ll work with them and see what happens. I think that’s, in all likelihood, probably the culprit,” Locatell said.

He said if that location does turn out to be a Superfund site, the township will not have to put out an RFQ. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the EPA will either force the party responsible for contamination to clean up the site, or the responsible party will have to reimburse the EPA for the cleanup.

Locatell said, at this point, the township is merely in conversation with the EPA. He said it hasn’t come to the township with any sort of formal plan on it they wants to do monitoring wells.

Township Manager Thomas Neff said the EPA had been discussing an agreement with the town, so it can do this monitoring.

“It’s a fairly routine thing that they’re looking for, and we want to comply with everything we can with EPA to help find out where the pollution is coming from and to identify where it may be moving,” Neff said.

Babcock also inquired about the timeline for completing the North Church Street and Hartford water treatment plants. Mayor Stacey Jordan informed Babcock the scheduled completion dates for both projects is December 31, 2019.

Neff said he and his staff are putting together a timeframe document that addresses legal deadlines the township is under as well as practical construction timelines. He said the goal is to keep both council and residents informed and to demonstrate the township is moving forward appropriately. He said, from time to time, there will be legal issues that don’t allow the township to disclose certain dates in a document.

Township Attorney Anthony Drollas said what can be made public will be made public. He said at this point the township is only in the preliminary stages of its agreement with the EPA.

“The first thing they do is investigate, and that’s what they’re doing.” Drollas said.

In the meantime, the temporary treatment is effective, according to Locatell. He said there’s no detection of 1,2,3-TCP at North Church.

“People can rest assured,” Locatell said. “You’re drinking very good, clean, safe water while we investigate the other issues.”

The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.