Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Pascrell Announces Completion of Thorium Site Cleanup in Wayne

Dec 17, 2001
Press Release

After nearly two decades, Township is "thorium-free"

Wayne - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J., 8th) announced today that, after nearly two decades, the cleanup of the Wayne Thorium Site on Black Oak Ridge Road has been completed.  Saying that the day marked an "important milestone for the people of this Township," Pascrell highlighted the expedited removal actions during his tenure in Congress, including the removal of nearly all the surface soil and the entire amount of subsurface material.

The Wayne site is the first U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) location in the United States to be completely cleaned on schedule.  There are 46 FUSRAP projects in 14 states across the nation.

"I'm sure that many residents of this great township thought they might never here these words, but today we can say them.Wayne is thorium-free," Pascrell said. 

"No longer will residents have to hear excuse after excuse for why the dangerous soil cannot be removed.  I have said since day one that the status quo here was no longer acceptable, and that we wouldn't be satisfied until the hazardous material was gone.   Today, we reach that important milestone for this Township." 

Since the summer of 1997, approximately 65% of the above ground pile at the site, (40,000 tons of soil, or 24,435 cubic yards) has been removed, in addition to the entire amount of contaminated subsurface material, which amounted to about 57,000 cubic yards.   For the 13 years preceding 1997, only 35% of the massive pile had been removed from the site, with the remainder being stored under a large tarp in the residential neighborhood.

The Army Corps will now be responsible for monitoring the site for five years by strategically placing monitoring wells throughout the site and periodically taking water samples to make sure there are no pockets of radioactive material left behind.  At the end of the monitoring period, the USACE will turn over the site to the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), which owns the property.

Pascrell is working now with the Corps and the USDOE to ensure that the site is turned over to Wayne Township at the end of the monitoring period.  At the point, the town will be able to utilize the site as it sees fit.  Pascrell and former Wayne Mayor David Waks fought to guarantee that the site is being cleaned to "residential" standards rather than a lower "commercial" standard.

The WISS was formerly utilized by W.R. Grace and Company for the processing of rare earth metals.  During Grace's operation, waste materials containing thorium were buried on site and in the surrounding area.  An initial cleanup led to the consolidation of the waste at the site on Black Oak Ridge Road between 1985-1987.

 "Since the mid-1980's, thorium existed at this location as a threat to the health and welfare of Wayne residents.   The hazardous material was always here -- whether you were driving by on Black Oak Ridge Road or looking out your window at a nearby home.  Those days are over," stated Pascrell at the news conference.

 "The fact that the Wayne site will be the first in the nation to be totally cleansed of pollution on schedule is testament to staying on top of this project every single day," said Pascrell.

Pascrell was joined at the site by Wayne officials as well as representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.