Home > Uncategorized > EPA Adds Insult To Injury At Curtis Specialty Superfund Site in Milford, NJ

EPA Adds Insult To Injury At Curtis Specialty Superfund Site in Milford, NJ

EPA Allows Truck Depot At Site, While Still No Building Demolition or Cleanup

[Updates below]

Here’s the promotional lead for the Delaware River Scenic Byway:

Only one place in America has  “Washington’s Crossing” and it is on the Delaware River Scenic Byway. Walk where George Washington and other Revolutionary War figures camped and navigated the waters of New Jersey’s “West Coast.”

From New Jersey’s capital, Trenton, through the charming riverside towns of Titusville, Lambertville, Stockton, Raven Rock and Frenchtown contemplate the area ‘s rich history and architecture of the 17th, 18th and 19th century.

Driving the Delaware Scenic Byway just north of lovely upscale Frenchtown, you are assaulted by a huge hulking industrial nightmare as you enter the more working class river town of New Milford:


long shut down coal cogeneration power plant still standing at site

No wonder the Scenic Byway ends at Frenchtown – Milford seems to have been excluded from the “area’s rich history and architecture” (as was Cadwalader Park, a Frederick Law Olmstead design).

Welcome to the Curtis Specialty Superfund site – evidence that Milford has been abandoned by government as well.

The Byway was a spectacular conception of local artists and historians, but we wish there was a lot less emphasis on automobile dependent scenery and the economic aspects of tourism, and a lot more on managing water quality & quantity of the Delaware River, management of land use, State parks and the superb natural resources of the Congressionally designated Wild & Scenic river corridor.

But, let’s get back on the main topic of this post.

I’ve written about this site before, see:

(just curious: I wonder how many of the “Stop the Pipeline” folks worked on any of these issues?)

EPA has made a series of mistakes overseeing cleanup of the site, primarily due to a heavy reliance on corporate science, elevation of cleanup costs in decision-making, and bowing to local economic development interests (similar problems were made at the cleanups of the nearby Crown Vantage Landfill Superfund site and the virtually unregulated other nearby Curtis Papers/Crown Vantage landfill, the one with “natural leachate” discharging directly into the Delaware River).

EPA mistakes include ignoring PCB risks along Q-Creek (allowing the stream bank to washout unknown quantities of PCBs into the river) and prematurely issuing a redevelopment report that raised unrealistic expectations for both cleanup and redevelopment.

But finally, in May 2015, EPA released a cleanup plan – it is yet to be implemented (and we think it is flawed and does not go far enough on site cleanup and ecological investigation and compensation for natural resource injuries due to off site impacts on fish and water quality of the Delaware River).

Then, just following that small positive momentum, EPA, via an August 28, 2015 email advised the Community Advisory Group (CAG) of the following:

Hello CAG Members,

We wanted to let you know that the front parking lot of the Curtis Paper site will be used over approximately the next 30 days as a staging area for trailers from the nearby GP box plant.  GP is implementing a minor construction project which necessitates the temporary relocation of the trailers.  It’s possible that the temporary use of the parking lot might result in increased traffic.  The town has been notified and I will let Alexandria know also.

The trailers stored will either be empty or contain paper products.  IP/GP will be controlling access to the site and restricting the trailers to the parking lot.

EPA does not have any objection to this activity.  However, if the situation changes – either a longer duration or an increased number of trailers, we will be notified and reach out to you again.  Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions or concerns.

Could you imagine if a local government approved a truck depot in your front yard and let you know via an email? EPA never would pull this stunt in Princeton. 

Here’s what that looks like from the road:

note the "No trespassing" signs

note the “No trespassing” signs

The decrepit cogeneration plant and old Crown Vantage distribution warehouse are not the only eyesores – that are health and safety threats as well – on the site. Take a look at this, perhaps just 100 feet from a lovely occupied residential neighborhood on Delaware Ave:

curtis specialty3

Delaware Ave homes - Perhaps EPA is unaware that Superfund sites and truck depots are not compatible land uses.

Delaware Ave homes – Perhaps EPA is unaware that Superfund sites and truck depots are not compatible land uses.

Here’s what it looks like from the residential neighborhood – note the “No Trucks Allowed” sign in the foreground:

"No Trucks Allowed"!

“No Trucks Allowed”!

It is bad enough that the West Milford community has been forced to live with this toxic eyesore for decades.

But for EPA to allow use of the Superfund site for a truck depot – merely to save the Corporations money – and then to announce their approval of that via email with no opportunity for public comment is way over the top – adding insult to industry.

[Update: here is my note to EPA:

Hi Pat – Just a few questions:
1. I visited the site yesterday (Sat.) and was monitored by a man driving an unmarked pickup truck. I assume he was some kind of site security person. He took my license plate and drove by me slowly 3 times.
The effect was intimidation – I did not trespass so there was no reasonable basis for the surveillance.
Does EPA require site security? Was this individual an EPA contractor or employed by the RP? I would like to followup with his employer.
2. Did you consult with the community or the municipality prior to approving the truck use?
This is a land use issue and NJ land use is driven by local government and land use decisions are made pursuant to a participatory and transparent process..
3. How did EPA establish enforceable commitments you mention regarding things like duration, total number of trucks allowed, hours of operation, etc?
Could you provide that approval document that spells out the agreement with EPA?
I oppose this move as an inappropriate land use and use of a Superfund site. I also oppose how EPA went about approving it and apparently notifying the community after the fact.

[Update 9/29/15 – here is EPA’s reply:


Thank you for your email.  The site security was provided by the RP, not an EPA contractor.  The town of Milford was aware of the request to use the front parking lot as a temporary staging and they had no objections and neither did EPA.  The last trailer was removed from the site this past Saturday, Sept. 26  – within the 30 day timeframe which was provided to us.

EPA did not find the use of the parking lot inappropriate.  We are now between the Proposed Plan and the ROD for the Curtis site.  It will be released shortly and I will be sure to send it to all CAG members.


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