EPA Hurricane Response Releases Pfizer Toxicity Into Canal

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From Edison Wetlands Association:

With Hurricane Irene's massive flooding followed by a second week of torrential downpours, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is responding by releasing the standing waters from Pfizer's highly toxic American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater, NJ, into the adjacent Raritan River and its flood-connected Delaware & Raritan Canal. While the USEPA forcing Pfizer to install carbon bags against the chemicals seeping into the Raritan River was a step in the right direction, urgent action is now needed.  

Several environmental groups including Edison Wetlands Association (EWA), NY/NJBaykeeper, the New Jersey Sierra Club and Raritan Riverkeeper last week called on the USEPA to take emergency measures to secure the leaking toxic waste chemical lagoons.  The USEPA refused to take that step, and is now exacerbating the problem to the already flood-devastated neighborhoods of Manville, Bridgewater, and Bound Brook.  Even worse, the flood-connected Delaware & Raritan Canal also serves as a drinking water source for thousands of New Jerseyans.

According to EWA Executive Director Robert Spiegel, "The USEPA and Pfizer didn't accurately prepare for the oncoming Hurricane Irene, and our worst fears were since realized as the witches brew of chemicals in this leaking toxic waste site are completely flooded.  While USEPA assures us that this site's 200 million gallons of water are safe for discharge into the Raritan River, the truth is that nothing about this leaking toxic waste site is safe.  The USEPA must make Pfizer install floodwater controls and filter the water before it is discharged, and needs to force Pfizer to undertake the cleanup with Emergency Removal.  


The USEPA must also hold an immediate public meeting to discuss how we can finally get this cleanup moving forward.  The USEPA and the state NJDEP have had this site on cleanup lists for over 25 years, yet American Cyanamid still poses a potentially catastrophic threat to human health and the environment."

Earlier this year EWA discovered that these chemical lagoons were leaking benzene and otherhighly toxic chemicals into the Raritan River at up to 20,000 times greater than the cleanup standard - a fact that Pfizer kept hidden from the USEPA for several months.  The USEPA ordered Pfizer to stop the chemical lagoonsfrom leaking into several creeks, brooks and the Raritan River, yet more action needs to be taken.  EWA has since collected over 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for USEPA and Pfizer to immediately clean up the toxic leaking chemical lagoons.

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