(New York, N.Y. – Sept. 3, 2008) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add the Curtis Specialty Papers, Inc. site (also known as the James River Paper site) in Milford, Hunterdon County, New Jersey to the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL)
of sites with known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. The NPL guides the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation and long-term cleanup. Today’s proposal will build on cleanup work already preformed at Curtis Specialty Papers under EPA’s short-term cleanup program.
“We have already addressed the most immediate threats at this site and secured the site to prevent access and further deterioration, and now it’s time to take a close look at what might be needed to protect the surrounding community into the future,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “By adding this site to our list of NPL sites, we can move forward on a further investigation of additional threats that the site may pose over the long term.”
The 40-acre property consists of a building complex, which includes the main mill building, the former coatings facility, a cogeneration power plant, and a wastewater treatment plant. The main mill, known as the Milford Mill, converted paper pulp to finished food-grade paper. The former coatings facility, which is located approximately 400 feet northwest of the Milford Mill, operated from approximately 1935 to 1988, during which time solvent-based resins were compounded and coated onto paper and other products.
In August 2001, the owners of the facility submitted a work plan to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), based on a preliminary investigation of the site. Before work could start, however, the company shut down operations and declared bankruptcy. The facility was closed down and left unsecured.
Since the closure of the facility in 2003, the site has been repeatedly vandalized and scavenged for materials. In 2006, NJDEP began work to address aboveground storage tanks, numerous labeled and unlabeled chemical containers, and high-pressure oxygen tanks. The State then turned the site over to EPA. Since that time, EPA has secured visible hazardous materials containers, identified and classified materials for waste disposal, inspected storage tanks to determine contents and disposed of empty containers at the former hazardous materials storage area. In all, approximately 30 pallets of drums and lab packs were removed from the facility. EPA is providing security at the site, and has erected fences to prevent access to several areas.
EPA’s future investigations will center on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the main contaminant of concern at the site. PCBs have been detected in soil at the site and along the banks of Quequacommisacong Creek. PCBs have also been found in pipes that discharge from the site to Quequacommisacong Creek, and in the creek. PCBs are probable human carcinogens, which may also have serious effects on the immune, neurological and reproductive systems. The creek is a fishery, and feeds into the Delaware River, which is adjacent to the site. The Delaware River is a major fishery, and there are many sensitive environments, such as wetlands and habitats for endangered species in the vicinity.