The Berry’s Creek Study Area in Bergen County, N.J. is in for a major cleanup. Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed off on the $332 million cleanup on Sept. 25, designed to address a major share of the contamination within the site.
“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection looks forward to continued work with the EPA on remediating Berry’s Creek and removing the high concentrations of chemicals from the waterway,” said Mark J. Pedersen, assistant commissioner for site remediation and waste management for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in a statement. “This interim cleanup should not only improve the overall environmental health of Berry’s Creek but add greatly to the quality of life and public health for residents in nearby communities.”
High levels of mercury, methyl mercury, PCBs, and chromium have been found in the water and sediment of Berry’s Creek. The cleanup aims to remove these contaminants in the areas zoned for cleanup, which are also impacting other sections of the site and animal life.
About Berry’s Creek
Roughly 4.5 miles long, parts of Berry’s Creek are located in Teterboro, Moonachie, Wood-Ridge, Carlstadt, Rutherford, and East Rutherford. The Berry’s Creek Study Area has been divided into five geographic segments, including:
- Upper Berry’s Creek
- Middle Berry’s Creek
- Berry’s Creek Canal
- Lower Berry’s Creek
- Upper Peach Island Creek
In the interim, the EPA has decided to control the release of contamination from the sediments in Upper and Middle Berry’s Creek. This is the first attempt to manage the sediments in Berry’s Creek. The EPA will continue monitoring the need for additional cleanup efforts to remediate sediments located in the Upper and Middle portions of Berry’s Creek. The Agency will also create a cleanup plan for the marshes, Lower Berry’s Creek, and Berry’s Creek Canal.
Berry’s Creek History
Prior to 1927, most of the Berry’s Creek Study Area was marsh, but then Ventron/Velsicol moved in. Located in Wood-Ridge and Carlstadt, the mercury processing plant was in operation from 1929 to 1974. During this time, process waste containing mercury and additional contaminants were disposed of onsite and into Berry’s Creek.
The NJDEP has overseen several investigations of the site’s soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment, and air quality, dating back to the 1970s. In September 1984, the site was placed on the EPA Superfund National Priorities List.