Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
July 10, 2000
TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has released for public comment a public health assessment on the Federal Creosote site in Manville, Somerset County. The public may submit written comments on the assessment through August 21, 2000.
Area residents with questions about the site may also attend a July 18 session being held by the department in conjunction with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Representatives of the three agencies will be available to discuss the draft public health assessment and to answer any questions about the site.
Federal Creosote is a 53-acre site that includes a commercial area and the Claremont housing development. The two areas were built over a former wood treatment facility in which railroad ties were treated with coal tar creosote from 1910 to 1956. After operations ceased, lagoons and canals containing used creosote were covered with fill, the site was graded and then developed.
In 1996, contaminants associated with creosote were found in a home. Since then, the federal EPA and ATSDR, and the state departments of Health and Senior Services, and Environmental Protection have been involved in assessing the health implications and remediating the site. Groundwater testing is also ongoing to ensure the public water supplies are not affected by the site.
A public health assessment evaluates the actual and potential human exposures to contaminants on the residential part of the site. This assessment summarizes much of the work that has been done to date, including the results of a number of health consultations conducted by ATSDR from 1997 to 1999.
According to the health assessment, residents' exposure to surface soils at the site represents no apparent public health hazard, and is not likely to cause health effects. Eating produce grown in the soil also poses no apparent hazard.
However, the department and ATSDR recommended that residents continue to avoid exposure to sub-surface soils, which do not pose a health risk as long as they're not disturbed. Sub-surface soils contain higher levels of certain chemicals which are a major component of creosote.
The federal EPA should continue with its plans to remove contaminated sub-surface soil and the original creosote placed on the site, according to the health assessment.
In July 1998, portions of the site were temporarily remediated through the placement of ground cover to eliminate exposure to contaminated soil. Residents of at least 17 homes will be permanently relocated and others will be temporarily relocated as the clean-up proceeds.
The July 18 question-and-answer session will be held at the Federal Creosote EPA field office, 31 S. Main St., Manville, from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.
The public is invited to submit written comments on the health assessment through August 21, 2000 to: Health Assessment Project Manager, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Consumer and Environmental Health Services, P.O. Box 360, Trenton NJ 08625-0360.
Copies of the document are available for public review at the Somerville Health Department and the Somerville Library. The health assessment will be available later this week on the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services web site at www.state.nj.us/health. Copies may also be obtained by calling the department at (609) 633-2043.
Federal Creosote Public Health Assessment (PDF 175 K)
Citizen's Guide to the Public Health Assessment (PDF 12K)