New York, NY—Sept. 16 : The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding two information sessions on September 17, 2008, to discuss an upcoming investigation of potential chromium contamination of the ground water in Garfield, New Jersey. The meetings will be held at 4:00pm and 7:00pm at the Garfield Middle School which is located at 175 Lanza Ave in Garfield, New Jersey.
Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, animals, plants, soil, and volcanic dust and gases. Certain forms of chromium are produced by the chemical industry and used for chrome plating, the manufacture of dyes and pigments, leather tanning, and wood preserving. When ground water contaminated by chromium evaporates, it can leave behind chromium crystals, which can then become airborne and inhaled. Ground water that has infiltrated basements will be the main focus of the investigation. Drinking water in Garfield is taken from the Garfield Municipal water supply and is not a part of this investigation.
The first step in this investigation is for EPA to survey commercial and residential buildings in Garfield that are located in an identified area to determine if the buildings have basements. The next step will be to determine if those basements have ever had flooding or infiltration problems, or if the basements have sump pumps that collect water. Upon these determinations, the Agency will take samples from the basements that had been identified to have past water infiltration problems, and run tests to see if chromium is present in the samples. The testing area includes 614 properties, beginning at Sherman Place and moving west to the Passaic River. The investigation is expected to begin in mid-September.
Historically, industrial facilities in Garfield were located in close proximity to residential areas. The facilities in EPA’s proposed study area include a tannery, a chemical plant and two electroplating companies. Some of these facilities used chromium in their processes.
In 1983, approximately 3,600 gallons of chromium plating solution leaked from a partially below-ground storage tank at E. C. Electroplating. The company attempted to clean up the spill, but reports indicate that less than a third of the solution was recovered and the rest got into the ground water. Chromium contaminated ground water has seeped into the basement of several buildings, including Garfield Fire House #3, which was shut down as a result. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) investigated this incident, but the State turned over the case to EPA in 2002. EPA is now investigating the exact source of the chromium, the extent of the contamination, and the levels of chromium in Garfield.