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Voorhees resident Alice Johnston discusses the contaminated Kirkwood Lake that lays behind her residence.

GIBBSBORO – The plan for cleansing up an extended-contaminated former paint manufacturing unit website would ultimately see the land clear sufficient for any sort of improvement, federal officers say.

However, residents close to the thirteen-acre United States Avenue Burn Superfund website are hoping the U.S. Environmental Safety Company’s $19 million venture consists of room for infrastructure enhancements.

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5 monitoring wells are stationed on a fourteen acre plot of contaminated soil Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. Water samples are periodically taken from the wells. (Photograph: Joe Lamberti/Employees Photographer)

The location contamination stems from improper paint disposal by defunct producers Lucas Paint Works and its successor, Sherwin Williams Inc., at a manufacturing unit website in Gibbsboro between the mid-1800s and 1978 when the plant closed.

MORE: Read about another $14 million Superfund cleanup

Ray Klimcsak, EPA Region II manager for all residential cleanup and the factory site, said removing soil to a depth of 12 feet and replacing it with clean fill would allow eventual residential, commercial or park development.

Paint either was burned there or dumped there after being burned at the factory complex off Route 561.

“The Superfund process is a very complicated, multi-faceted process,” Klimcsak said at a meeting attended by approximately 50 people at the Gibbsboro Senior Center.

”The focus is on the most contaminated areas upstream and then move downstream.”

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Gibbsboro Mayor Ed Campbell stands by old exhaust stacks from an old paint and varnish manufacturing plant Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. While the remaining stacks are non functional and serve as historical tributes to the town, the soil underneath is heavily contaminated from years of paint and varnish manufacturing. (Photo: Joe Lamberti/Staff Photographer)

The Superfund contamination area stretches for 1.5 miles from Gibbsboro to Voorhees via a series of streams and lakes that includes HIiliards Creek, which feeds Kirkwood Lake in Voorhees.

Although no residents live inside the burn site, some in attendance who live nearby clamored for public sewer service in the area.

However, Gibbsoro Mayor Ed Campbell said contamination under United States Avenue would prevent putting in a sewer system and cleanup priority had to be given to residential properties that had contamination.

“We want sewer, and to get it the borough has to dig up the avenue,” said an impatient Marie Haines, who used to work at the factory and lives sandwiched between the burn and factory sites.

Brian Woolner, another resident, said he only has a cesspool and is tired of paying taxes for a property that needs sewer service. “We’re all in the same mess,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Voorhees residents argued for dredging of Kirkwood Lake sediment with lower contaminant levels before the already shrinking lake dries up completely.

Alice Johnston, Kirkwood Lake Environmental Committee chairwoman, said lakeside residents are “just frustrated beyond belief.”

“For God’s sake, put Sherwin Williams resources into this and clean things up,” urged lakeside homeowner Ed Kelleher.

The EPA is also in the process of cleaning up contaminated soil from 33 home properties around that lake and has finished cleaning up eight other residential properties in Gibbsboro, the Silver Lake and part of the factory complex that is now the Paint Works Corporate Center.

Contamination also has been contained a related four-acre dump site on Lakeview Avenue near unpolluted Clements Lake and some soil removal is scheduled there.

Part of the burn site is fenced and includes abandoned railroad tracks and ground surrounding Bridgewood Lake. The fenced area has only “No Trespassing” signs as does the separate and smaller dump site on Lakeview Avenue next to the Continental Shopping Plaza.

Campbell has voiced objections to the burn site plan because it does not call for soil removal under United States Avenue.

“If we install sewer, we would have to dig up contaminated soil,” he said before the meeting, recounting private conversations with the EPA Region II office last week on his request to change part of the plan.

EPA officials say the road surface acts as a contamination cap but that in case there is road reconstruction or sewer pipe installation, the level of contamination under the roadway is low enough to permit construction activity.

However, Campbell said the state will never allow roadway digging if contamination remains underneath.

The mayor congratulated the EPA for committing two more staff members to this complex Superfund project.

“EPA has more recently picked up the tempo after the borough pushed for it,” he added.

However, he said he had to get Rep. Donald Norcross involved before theEPA agreed to sample the old stream bed of a rerouted stream near the Route 561 dump site.

““I’m still frustrated about that and that they (EPA) are leaving contamination in the dump and burn sites,” he said.

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Carol Comegno; (856) 486-2473; ccomegno@gannettnj.com

 

 

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