Home > Uncategorized > PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Found In Groundwater at Over 900 TIMES NJ DEP Standards At Curtis Specialty Superfund Site Along The Delaware River

PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Found In Groundwater at Over 900 TIMES NJ DEP Standards At Curtis Specialty Superfund Site Along The Delaware River

PFAS Contamination Under Investigation For Almost 2 Years

Neither EPA Nor NJ DEP Have Mandated Cleanup Requirements

Continuity of Corporate Control

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This is a quick followup on my recent posts about discovery of PFAS “forever chemicals” in groundwater at the Curtis Specialty Papers Superfund Site in Milford NJ, along the Delaware river. I have written critically about publicly available information, see this and this and this.

I haven’t heard back yet from EPA Region 2 Acting Administrator Walter Mugdan in response to my May 8 email requesting that EPA re-open the remedial investigation, formally consult USFWS, and mandate cleanup.

But NJ DEP has responded to my OPRA request and I have some of the documents and data.

The surface and groundwater data show that some sampled PFAS levels in groundwater are more than 900 times the NJ DEP standards. (glad to provide the data on request)

An April 23, 2021 letter to EPA from International Paper summarized the most recent groundwater sampling data (March 2021)

Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 11.44.16 AM

Note that all samples exceed NJ DEP standards.

Note that Monitoring Well 15 (MW-15) shows a level of 11.90 ug/l – that is 915 times higher than the DEP groundwater quality standard of 0.013ug/l.

Note that the NJ DEP drinking water standard (published June 20, 2020) is not even mentioned. Instead, the much high EPA health advisory level is cited.

Some of the March 2021 sampling data are higher than the concentrations of some of the data initially reported to DEP and that formed the basis for the corporate certified “voluntary” Classification Exception Area (CEA). This conflicts with the requirements of the DEP CEA regulations, because pollutant concentrations are supposed to decline over time, not increase. And there is no provision in DEP CEA regulations for a corporation to voluntarily establish a CEA. A CEA is an important regulatory document that is issued by DEP, not private corporations.

Here is a map of the CEA – note the Delaware River. According to the CEA, the groundwater flow is west towards the Delaware River (the PFAS is in red and the VOC’s are in blue.):

Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 11.59.45 AM

Despite the know groundwater (and pollutant) migration towards the Delaware River, there was just 1 river sample taken downriver from the plant.

There was no sampling of fish and wildlife (biota) or river sediments.

EPA and DEP have know about the PFAS contamination for almost 2 years (since sometime before July 2019). How did they keep this issue quiet for so long?

During this same timeframe, NJ DEP issued press releases and got numerous favorable press reports – particularly by NJ Spotlight – reporting about how they were so stringently regulating PFAS (this regulatory activity was described by Acting Commissioner LaTourette at his recent Senate confirmation hearing as “the best in the world”).

But in fact, this case shows that DEP is NOT enforcing those stringent standards and cleanup requirements and is keeping known PFAS contamination from public view.

Here the chronology, from a January 28, 2020 letter from International’s paper to EPA (DEP is copied):

Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 11.57.38 AM

Finally, neither EPA nor DEP have mandated any groundwater cleanup requirements or broader sampling of river surface water quality, sediments and biota.

Nor have they pursued natural resource damage (NRD) claims, which is not at all surprising given the fact that current NJ DEP Acting Commissioner LaTourette previously served as a corporate lawyer who sued DEP and crippled the DEP NRD program.

Other than that, EPA and DEP and NJ Spotlight are doing a heckofajob!

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