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$332 Million to Clean Up Toxic Site in NJ

It is one of the most contaminated freshwater sites in the United States.

Yesterday, the EPA announced plans to move forward with a plan to clean up Berry's Creek in New Jersey. A part of a superfund site in Bergen County located near MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands sports complex, the area is one of the most contaminated freshwater sites in the United States. The cleanup, according to EPA officials, will cost $332 million. However, the expense will be shared.

According to the plan, more than 100 companies have verbally agreed to help pay for remediating Berry's Creek, including the removal of mercury, PCBs, and chromium contamination. The toxins have been linked to severe neurological and developmental damage, and are at high levels in the water and sediment. The EPA has been investigating the extent of the contamination for seven years

According to the AP, a mercury processing plant operated on the site until the mid-1970s. It was operational for more than 40 years, and the area has a long history of industrial discharges, landfilling, sewage discharges and urban runoff.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed off on the cleanup plan on September 25. Pete Lopez, the EPA's regional administrator, says that the area has suffered for decades and action to remediate the area is past due. The primary risk to people is from eating contaminated fish and crabs from the creek.

The plan includes removing up to two feet of sediment of the entire creek, about 12 square miles, and backfilling what was removed. It also includes the excavation and capping of approximately 27 acres of area marsh, where researchers found some of the highest surface concentrations of contaminants.

So when with the work start? Not for awhile. Now that the EPA has made an interim record of decision (ROD), remedial design work will take up to two years. That means that the cleanup won’t actually start until 2020-2021.

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