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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Aristech Chemical Corporation in Linden, New Jersey

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status

Remediation of the entire site is being done under New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Property Transfer Program. Previously, contaminated soil from lots 18 through 21 was excavated in 1997 and 2002 and transported off-site for proper disposal. A durable asphalt and concrete cover was installed over all unpaved areas of residual contamination and currently buildings or asphalt cover approximately 95 percent of the Site. A Deed Notice for Lots 20 and 21 was issued in July 2003 to restrict future site use to nonresidential and prevent disturbance of the engineering controls as the final component of the soil remedy on the property. 

To address the remaining contamination issues, Aristech recently conducted additional remedial activities at the site that included soil excavation to remove PCB impacted soil on Block 423, Lot 10 (the off-property parcel owned by Conrail) and the establishment of an institutional control in the form of a Deed Notice on a small portion of Block 470, Lot 69 (the off-property parcel owned by Amtrak). Excavated soil was shipped off-site for proper disposal and the open excavations areas were backfilled using 1.5-inch clean stone. The Deed Notice for Lot 69 was recorded by the Union County Clerk’s office in November 2013 to accommodate presumed residual PCBs remaining in shallow soil above NJDEP’s residential standards. 

In addition, a Classification Exception Area (CEA) will be established for the localized area of benzene remaining in MW-13RR as the final component of the groundwater remedy for the site. The Deed Notices with the CEA will be utilized as institutional controls to restrict the use of groundwater and soils as long as they remain contaminated.  Groundwater sampling at the site is ongoing to monitor contaminant concentrations and assure that the migration of contaminated groundwater is under control.

Site Description

The Former Aristech Chemical Corporation (Aristech) Site comprises about 3.25 acres and is located on Block 423 Lots 18, 19, 20, and 21 at 1711 West Elizabeth Avenue, Linden, Union County, New Jersey. The site is zoned as industrial and is bordered by industrial properties to the southwest and northeast, by rail lines operated by Conrail and Amtrak to the east and by Elizabeth Avenue to the west. In general, the area along Elizabeth Avenue in the vicinity of the Site is utilized for industrial/commercial purposes. Public access to the offsite areas (off-property railroad areas to the south of Lots 18 through 21) is restricted by security gates and fencing.

From 1950 to 1980, the site was used for manufacturing polyester resins by combining various raw organic chemicals (e.g., glycols, organic acids) in a closed, heated reactor and blending this material with an organic diluent (styrene) to form a viscous liquid at room temperature. Heat transfer systems were used to keep the raw chemicals heated to their molten states so they could be pumped and metered into the reaction vessels. From 1980 to 1985, only two small pilot plants remained in intermittent operation to produce small batches of specialty resins.  Aristech began scaling back facility operations in 1985 and operations were ceased in 1998.

Contaminants at this Facility

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are the primary constituents of concern (COC) for soil at the Aristech site, with impacts identified on all four parcels (Lots 18 through 21). Incidental spills from the operation of the heat transfer systems that previously utilized PCB, are presumed to have caused elevated levels of PCB constituents detected in soil at the Site. PCBs from the incidental discharged of heat transfer fluid on Lot 20 were apparently tracked onto other areas of the site via vehicular traffic, resulting in the observed distribution of PCBs in surface soil on all four of the Lots.

Also, PCB contamination is present in soil in off-property areas directly behind Lots 18, 19, and 20 on the former Contrail rail line property, and to a much lesser extent on Block 470, Lot 69 (owned by Amtrak). These off site impacts are believed to be associated with stormwater runoff from the Aristech site. 

Groundwater at the site is contaminated with VOCs but currently, benzene is the only VOC still detected marginally above the NJDEP Ground Water Quality Standards (GWQS) in one monitoring well (MW-13RR) within Lot 21. The groundwater contamination does not extend off site and it is expected to remain on site. There are no drinking water wells in the area.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 2.