The Biden administration started the physical clean-up of the former LCP Chemical site in Linden, with demolition already underway for several buildings at the Superfund site.
Once the razing is complete, the federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to move ahead with the treatment of mercury-contaminated soil and groundwater, with an anticipated completion date of this summer for that particular stage.
Eventually, a cap would be constructed around the 26-acre former chlorine plant – which opened in 1972 and closed over a decade later – after the mercury-contaminated soil is treated with sulfur to solidify it and prevent leaks into nearby groundwater. Any materials that cannot be recycled would be placed under the cap.
“Once we have better access to areas under the buildings, we can more readily address the mercury contamination in the soil, as well as the underlying groundwater,” reads a prepared statement from Lisa Garcia, regional administrator for the EPA’s Region 2, which includes New Jersey.
A manufacturing hub during the early and mid-20th century, the Garden State plays host to some of the most polluted Superfund sites in the nation. With many chemicals and contaminants having made their way into the Hackensack and Passaic rivers, both are now among the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.
EPA officials declared the LCP plant a Superfund site in 1998, adding it to a list of the nation’s most polluted tracts of land, water and air. The official price tag for the work ballooned from $29 million to roughly $44.3 million as of March 2020, according to the EPA.
Federal environmental officials said the cost increases are tied to a higher price tag for the barrier surrounding the former chemical plant.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead described this first leg of the clean-up as “a long time coming.”
“LCP shutdown operations in 1985 and having this site redeveloped and put back on the tax rolls will provide both economic and financial benefits to Linden,” he said in a statement from the EPA.
State officials have a number of economic incentive programs, meant to entice developers to clean-up and redevelop polluted, typically abandoned tracts of land usually situated in urban, lower-income parts of the state.