EPA has not said whether it’s inspected all 247 Superfund sites.
EPA says the storm didn’t cause major problems at the 247 Superfund toxic waste sites in New York and New Jersey, but many tests have not been done.
OLD BRIDGE, N.J. — For more than a month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that the recent superstorm didn’t cause significant problems at any of the 247 Superfund toxic waste sites it’s monitoring in New York and New Jersey.
But in many cases, no actual tests of soil or water are being conducted, just visual inspections.
The EPA conducted a handful of tests right after the storm but couldn’t provide details or locations of any recent testing when asked last week. New Jersey officials point out that federally designated Superfund sites are the EPA’s responsibility.
The 1980 Superfund law gave the EPA the power to order cleanups of abandoned, spilled and illegally dumped hazardous wastes that threaten human health or the environment. The sites can involve long-term or short-term cleanups.
Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, said officials haven’t done enough to ensure there is no contamination from Superfund sites. He’s worried toxins could leach into groundwater and the ocean.
“It’s really serious and I think the EPA and the state of New Jersey have not done due diligence to make sure these sites have not created problems,” Tittel said.
The EPA said last month that none of the Superfund sites it monitors in New York or New Jersey sustained significant damage, but that it has done follow-up sampling at the Gowanus Canal site in Brooklyn, the Newtown Creek site on the border of Queens and Brooklyn, and the Raritan Bay Slag site, all of which flooded during the storm.
But last week, EPA spokeswoman Stacy Kika didn’t respond to questions about whether any soil or water tests have been done at the other 243 Superfund sites. The agency hasn’t said exactly how many of the sites flooded.
“Currently, we do not believe that any sites were impacted in ways that would pose a threat to nearby communities,” EPA said in a statement.
Elevated levels of lead, antimony, arsenic and copper have been found at the Raritan Bay Slag site, a Superfund site since 2009. Blast furnaces dumped lead at the site in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and lead slag was also used there to construct a seawall and jetty.
The EPA took four samples from the site after Sandy. One of the samples tested above the recreational limit for lead.
The Gowanus Canal in the New York borough of Brooklyn was made a Superfund site in 2010. Sandy flooded several toxic sites in New York and New Jersey.