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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Ethicon Incorporated in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has overseen the investigation of over 30 separate areas of concern (AOCs) at the current site and on the adjacent property now owned by SJP. NJDEP has approved no further action for all soil AOCs. Groundwater remediation has been underway since 1987. Remediation initially consisted of a pumping system on the east side of the facility, which discharged pumped water to the sanitary sewer without treatment. Water treatment prior to sanitary sewer discharge was included several years later. A dual-phase vapor extraction system was added in 1993 and shut down after PCE removal rates declined in 1999. The pump and treat system was transitioned to an enhanced bioremediation approach from 1998 to 2002.

Although the pumping system was shut down in 2002, all components were left in place as a contingency measure. Enhanced bioremediation via molasses injection and nano-scale zero-valent iron (ZVI) have been used since 2002 to reduce both source area PCE mass and downgradient groundwater contaminant concentrations and is considered to be the final remedy for groundwater.

NJDEP has identified a number of additional AOCs & Tanks that require further investigation and has requested Ethicon to submit additional information to address the stat's concerns. Also, NJDEP recently approved a Vapor Intrusion Sampling Workplan submitted by Ethicon for both, on and off-site to fully evaluate the potential for vapor intrusion pathway to indoor air. Remedial measures, if required, will be considered based on the results both investigations. 

Site Description

The Ethicon, Inc., facility is situated on approximately 90-acre campus located within a highly developed suburban area between U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 202/206 in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. It is bordered on the east by Peters Brook. The adjacent Property to the east, previously owned by Ethicon, was sold to SJP Properties (SJP) in 1985. SJP built office complex with several office buildings, a parking garage, and various parking lots. A public high school and a golf course are located north and south of the site, respectively. Residential areas are located west and northeast of the site.

The Ethicon facility was used to manufacture surgical needles and sutures and has been in operation since 1960s. Currently, the site is used for office work, research, storage, and limited amount of manufacturing. 

Contaminants at this Facility

High level of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) was discovered in groundwater during the investigation of the Ethicon site in mid 1980s. The Needle Area has been identified as a historic source of PCE; this area was used to degrease wire with the solvent prior to processing. Significant quantities of PCE were used between 1972 and the early 1980s. Two 550-gallon above-ground storage tanks were used to store virgin and waste PCE from 1972 to 1980. Prior to and after that period, PCE was obtained and disposed of in 55-gallon drums. PCE use was discontinued at Ethicon in the mid-1980s.

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.