BY TOM CAIAZZA
EDISON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a pair of violations to Industrial Land Reclaiming Inc., owners of the landfill of the same name, for hazardous waste that was found in the soil outside of the landfill wall.
The site is currently in the process of redevelopment by JERC Partners VII, a redevelopment firm that has an application for a 500,000-plus-square-foot warehouse pending in front of the Edison Planning Board.
According to Larry Hajna, a spokesperson for the DEP, the ILR landfill and its owners were found in violation of the landfill’s closure/post-closure plans because testing conducted by a consultant hired by JERC found, among other things, high levels of hazardous materials in the soil outside of the landfill’s clay cap that appeared to contain fragments of asphalt.
“They detected some PAHs, or polyaromatic hydrocarbons,” Hajna said, “which was probably related to the asphalt. And we also had one elevated level of lead and one of arsenic.”
The DEP’s findings came about in part by the urging of the Edison Wetlands Association (EWA) when JERC invited EWA executive director Robert Spiegel to walk the site some months back, which has presumably been closed since 1985.
The EWA had previously been critical of building on the site and has raised many concerns about missing landfill records and the quality of the leaching system that prevents contaminated groundwater from seeping into the watershed.
Spiegel said that he noticed a large volume of waste lying outside the protective wall, and when the EWA inquired about it, he said, JERC had no information on whether the fill had been tested for contaminants.
The DEP is still investigating where the contaminated fill came from and cannot pinpoint exactly when the waste was dumped on the ILR landfill, but that it was relatively recently.
“This was soil that was brought in recently or at some point in the not-so-distant past that wasn’t there before,” Hajna said. “And that’s why the department issued the notice of violation for the various noncompliance with the closure/post-closure plan.”
According to the World Wildlife Federation, polyaromatic hydrocarbons are present in petroleum-based products such as asphalt and have been suspected of causing cancer and interfering with the hormones of the reproductive system of wildlife such as fish.
Spiegel said that he was concerned that the DEP missed these potentially hazardous materials while approving and considering as many as six different permits during the course of this project.
Spiegel said the DEP was “asleep at the switch” and he wondered how they could have missed materials outside the landfill wall that he said were easily spotted.
“With all these permits and all this review,” Spiegel said, “how could the DEP have missed what we were able to see in a few minutes?”
Representatives from neither JERC Partners VII nor Industrial Land Reclaiming Inc. could not be reached for comment.