EPA proposes new plan for Superfund site after more than 40 years of failure

Matlack, Inc. Superfund site in Woolwich Township, in Gloucester County, New Jersey.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will augment its original 2017 cleanup plan for the Matlack, Inc. Superfund site in Woolwich Township, in Gloucester County, New Jersey.

Investigation and ineffectual cleanup work at 79-acre property along Route 322 has been going on for more than 40 years. New Jersey has more Superfund sites than any other state in the nation.

The site has been contaminated with volatile organic compounds, which can potentially harm people’s health, as a result of past truck maintenance and tanker washing operations.

The proposed cleanup technique for cleaning up the drum disposal area is called in-situ thermal treatment, which removes harmful chemicals in soil and groundwater using heat. EPA’s original 2017 cleanup plan includes the installation of underground barriers designed to remove volatile organic compounds from the groundwater.

In addition, EPA will remove an area of contaminated sediment along Grand Sprute Run and will remove contaminated soil within a former lagoon area. The sediment and soil will be disposed of at off-site facilities licensed to handle the waste.

EPA has invited the public to provide their input on the proposed cleanup plan during a 30-day public comment period that began on March 29, 2023. EPA will also host a virtual public meeting on April 12, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. to explain the new cleanup proposal.

To attend the public meeting, please register here before the meeting begins.

“EPA is committed to ongoing engagement with communities near Superfund sites,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “EPA is proposing a new treatment to address an additional source of contamination found at the Matlack, Inc. Superfund site in Woolwich. We invite the public to join us and hear about the new cleanup proposal.”

From 1962 to 2001, the site housed a terminal primarily used for cleaning trucks and tankers that transported various hazardous substances, including flammable and corrosive liquids.

The contaminated cleaning solution was disposed of in an unlined lagoon behind the terminal building until 1976, when Matlack Inc. began storing wastewater in open-top, in-ground concrete tanks before transporting the wastewater away from the site for disposal. The lagoon was later filled with demolition debris and other material.

Although Matlack discontinued tanker cleaning operations in November 1997, it continued to service and store vehicles at the site until 2001, when it filed for bankruptcy.

Today, the Swedesboro Terminal is operated by Coopersburg & Liberty Kenworth, a medium-and heavy-duty truck sales and service center.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) launched an investigation into potential groundwater contamination at the site in December 1982, following reports of contamination in drinking water wells in the surrounding area, but it did not require Matlack to clean up the area until May 1987.

Between 1990 and 2001, Matlack installed a groundwater treatment system, dug up underground storage tanks and removed contaminated soil. The groundwater treatment system was not working well so NJDEP referred the site to EPA.

In September 2011, at the request of EPA, the NJDEP completed a site reassessment which concluded that sources of contamination requiring further action under CERCLA were still present at the site.

By 2012, EPA began its own investigation, ultimately placing it on the NPL in 2013.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the Matlack, Inc. site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in May 2013.

Written comments on the proposed plan may be mailed or emailed to Supinderjit Kaur, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The public can visit the Matlack, Inc. Superfund site profile page for additional background and site documents.

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