Three years ago, community members in Old Bridge, Sayreville, and surrounding New Jersey towns were angry when the United States Environmental Protection Agency told them that their beautiful beaches and recently renovated boardwalks that they use daily to walk, swim, fish, and sunbathe are lined with toxic lead slag and would be closed indefinitely. They quickly learned that three decades ago the State of New Jersey allowed thousands of tons of leaking toxic lead slag, which was smelted decades ago, to be used for beachfront stabilization and jetties. When the state finally got around to admitting the scope of the problem and its potential impacts to children's health, 40 years of exposure to cancer-causing lead had passed.
The toxic slag has already deprived the Raritan Bay communities of their right to access the beaches and waterfront, and even worse, it will continue to contaminate the entire ecosystem and pose a threat to the sportsman and families who recreate along the toxic waterfront until it is removed.
The toxic slag was dumped over 38 years ago and has leached lead, arsenic, antimony and copper onto the beaches and into the bay sediments and wetlands. Because lead levels on the beach are in the 150,000 – 200,000 ppm range and exceeding safe levels by 500 times the state standard, these levels are a direct threat to anyone who comes into contact with the toxic slag or the contaminated sediments.
According to state and federal health agencies, there is no safe level of lead! The more lead is studied, the more health agencies caution about any exposure. No matter how small the amount of lead found at beaches and near where children play, it is at alarming levels. Exposure to lead is more dangerous in children because their growing bodies and brains are more sensitive than adults. According to Federal and State Health officials high levels of lead exposure in children lead to the developing of blood anemia, severe stomach aches, muscle weakness, and even brain damage. Since there is no safe level of lead exposure, even low levels in children can lead to I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavioral problems. Arsenic is a cancer-causing metal, and copper and antimony are equally hazardous to humans and animals as well.
The toxic slag poses an extremely high health risk not only to the surrounding community but to the wildlife in the area as well. Biota samples have found elevated levels of metals in the animals tested, affecting the fish, crabs and other biota, and likely moving up the food chain into the larger fish, birds and humans. The Raritan Bay, where this slag is located, is a regionally important area that is used by thousands of boaters, water-skiers, bird watchers, swimmers and sportsmen who fish and crab recreationally and commercially.
Recognizing this health hazard after careful review of all possible options, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has released their option for a cleanup plan calling for total removal of the toxic materials. Tthis plan will permanently solve the problem by fully removing the slag and contaminated sediments from the Raritan Bayshore and is the only option that will fix the problem, protect the entire community, restore property values and protect fisheries. However, USEPA's selected cleanup plan is not final, and can still be swayed by billionaire corporate polluters who do not want to pay for the multi-million dollar cleanup.
Please sign this petition urging USEPA to keep their selected plan that calls for complete removal of the toxic slag and sediment in order to protect the health and safety of the public who use these beaches daily. We need every signature we can get to send the polluters and their supporters a message loud and clear. We demand this area be fully cleaned of all the toxic slag and contaminated sediments if we hope to make this plan a reality. The polluter National Lead and its billionaire owner have publicly stated they will fight any plan and any attempts to hold them accountable for their pollution. Please sign the petition and stand against the billionaires and corporate polluters who don't care who they hurt in order to make even more profits at the expense of the public good and a clean environment.
We need to support the USEPA’s plan to clean and restore the Laurence Harbor beach, Sayreville Jetty, and environmentally sensitive Margaret’s Creek wetlands so the public can swim and fish safely once again!
- USEPA Region 2 Administrator
- USEPA Remedial Project Manager
- USEPA Region 2 Superfund Director
Dear Ms. Tanya Mitchell,
As an interested party in the cleanup of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site, I support the the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) recommended “Remedial Alternative 2” in the Proposed Plan for the remediation of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site in Old Bridge and Sayreville, New Jersey. This selected remedy plan is to excavate all slag and contaminated sediment and restore the affected areas of the Laurence Harbor seawall, the western jetty in Sayreville that extends from the Cheesequake Creek Inlet into Raritan Bay, and approximately 50 acres of Margaret’s Creek.
Since the depositing of the blast furnace bottoms along the Laurence Harbor seawall, it has been leaching high levels of lead, arsenic, copper and antimony into Raritan Bay, Cheesequake Jetty, and Margaret’s Creek wetlands. Due to the tidal bay and constant erosion of our beach, all capping methods are unacceptable, and must not be considered. The lead slag must be removed from the beach and transported off-site immediately, so the residents can swim, sunbathe and fish safely. The citizens of Sayreville and Old Bridge deserve to have an environment that they can safely enjoy. The only way to guarantee the health and safety of those citizens that enjoy these areas is by selecting USEPA’s Proposed Plan “Remedial Alternative 2” to clean up the affected areas of the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site.
We agree that it is in the best interest of USEPA and the surrounding community to dig up all of the slag and contaminated sediment in all of the affected areas and dispose of it in a proper hazardous waste landfill. Please do not allow anything less than this for the selected remedy. Capping and relocation are unacceptable to this community and does not offer a safe, permanent remedy for this dangerous lead slag. This would expose even greater portions of the community to dangerous conditions, not to mention the effect it would have on wildlife nearby.
As we all know, in this current economic situation, small businesses have been suffering. The last thing local businesses need is for potential profits to be hindered by toxic contamination. If this Superfund cleanup is not fast-tracked, it will destroy the environmental and economic viability of dozens of towns and their business communities along the Raritan Bayshore. The Old Bridge and Sayreville communities and local businesses cannot afford to lose another summer of beach closure, missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue from summer recreation activities. USEPA must consider fast-tracking the Remedial Design and Remedial Action so the USEPA can begin removing the waste by 2013, instead of a projected 2015. USEPA must take aggressive action to remove this impending environmental and economic disaster and truck the toxic slag off-site in a timely manner.
It is the right decision because it shows that the health of all of our citizens and the environment is of the utmost importance, not just of those in Sayreville and Old Bridge. Anyone who lives on or near a polluted site deserves the attention that USEPA’s Proposed Plan is giving the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund Site. Supporting this plan has positive impacts beyond just this Superfund Site and sets a precedent for future cleanups around the country.
Thank you for protecting the families of Old Bridge and Sayreville by selecting “Remedial Alternative 2” as a final cleanup plan.
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