- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (AP) - The Hackensack River is moving closer to gaining a federal Superfund designation that could trigger a cleanup of the tainted sediment in the waterway.

The Record newspaper reports (https://bit.ly/1Sv394O ) the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it has seen enough evidence of pollution that it will sample the river’s sediment to see if it should be labeled a Superfund site.

It made the determination after a monthslong study of 17 miles of the river that found elevated levels of lead, mercury and other contaminants.

“Having the EPA focus on this in a comprehensive way makes a lot of sense and could lead to faster cleanup,” said Ed Lloyd, an environmental law expert at Columbia Law School. “Without it, you’re not going to make nearly as much progress.”

The EPA will sample the river sediment next year. It will then conduct multiyear studies to determine the extent of the pollution and how to clean it up if it’s named a Superfund site.

“The only way to comprehensively clean up these tidal river systems with multiple polluters is through Superfund, which can pull in all the polluters together,” said Debbie Mans, executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “Cleaning up the sediment is a critical piece toward a fully restored river that’s safe for people to use and enjoy.”

The EPA uses a unique “hazard ranking system” to determine if a site should be added to the Superfund list. Agency officials assess the level of pollution at a particular site and the amount of risk it poses to both humans and the environment.

The Hackensack River was given a preliminary ranking of 50. Sites with a final ranking of 28.5 or higher qualify for Superfund status.


Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), https://www.northjersey.com

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