2013 / Q3 News Briefs

Hexavalent chromium levels measured in airborne dust at the perimeter of the site are well within safety levels.
Chrome blood levels unchanged as result of cleanups spacer

JERSEY CITY, N.J., Aug. 8, 2013 – The fourth round of blood samples collected from residents living near the Garfield Avenue cleanup site did not show any changes in chromium levels that could be attributed to PPG Industries’ cleanup activities.

Blood samples from 30 residents were collected from mid-May through mid-June 2013 as part of an ongoing project administered by the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University to determine whether community exposure to hexavalent chromium changes during and after the cleanup on Garfield Avenue.

“This further confirms that the multiple exposure prevention measures that have been taken from the start of excavation are working,” said Mike McCabe, the independent, court-appointed site administrator.

Among the protective measures is a dust-suppression plan designed to prevent excavated materials, including hexavalent chromium, from becoming airborne. McCabe said air-monitoring results also confirm PPG’s exposure prevention efforts are working. Hexavalent chromium levels measured in airborne dust at the perimeter of the site are well within safety levels established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Click here to see latest results.

McCabe said the voluntary blood sampling program is being conducted in response to community concerns about exposure during the cleanup. Under program guidelines, samples are being collected and analyzed by an independent laboratory. McCabe said he anticipates the next round of sampling will be conducted in approximately one year. The cleanup is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The first round of sampling was conducted in June 2010 before cleanup activities began at Garfield Avenue in July 2010. A final round of sampling will be conducted after the cleanup is complete.

No additional residents can be enrolled in the blood sampling program because blood samples taken before the cleanup work began are required for comparison against samples collected during and after the cleanup.

The results from the latest round of sampling were mailed to study participants last week.

Cleanup work at the Garfield Avenue Site has been “challenging,” according to Mike McCabe, the independent, court-appointed site administrator.
Completion date for all PPG cleanups extended to Dec. 2015 spacer

JERSEY CITY, N.J., July 26, 2013 – Citing “many obstacles to progress,” Mike McCabe, the independent, court-appointed site administrator for PPG Industries’ chromium cleanups, announced today the date for the company to complete work at its 15 remaining sites has been extended to December 2015.

In a letter mailed to residents, McCabe said “work to clean up PPG’s former chrome ore processing plant on Garfield Avenue has been challenging.” As a result, the “pace of excavation did not proceed as quickly or smoothly as anticipated” when PPG, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Jersey City reached a settlement in Superior Court in 2009 to establish a cleanup goal of December 2014. Click here to read the letter.

After completing a “top-to-bottom review,” McCabe said all parties to the settlement have made “significant changes and PPG has added additional resources to move the project forward.” Among the changes, McCabe cited a revised management structure as well as better planning and sequencing of work.

“Even with these significant changes, it is important to emphasize that the stringent chromium cleanup standards and exposure prevention measures approved by DEP and adopted from the start of this project have not been modified in any way,” McCabe said.

Superior Court Judge Hector Velazquez has approved the revised schedule. Click here to view the court order and supporting documents.

McCabe said he plans to conduct a public meeting before the end of summer to provide more detail about the revised schedule. In addition, the meeting will be an opportunity to review progress to date in connection with the 2009 court settlement. Accomplishments include:

  • Establishing multiple, overlapping exposure-prevention measures that protect the public and site workers from chromium contamination, including continuous 24/7 air monitoring of the sites;
  • Creating a residential site inspection and cleanup program entirely paid for by PPG;
  • Conducting a voluntary, independent blood testing program to evaluate if residents living near the Garfield Avenue sites were being exposed from excavation activities. After four rounds of testing, results show no levels of chromium that would indicate increased exposure to contaminated waste;
  • Removing all chromium waste to the DEP's standard from Berry Lane Park on Garfield Avenue so it can be turned into a recreational area for city residents;
  • Removing more than 40 percent of the chromium waste from the main Garfield Avenue Site; and
  • Decontaminating more than 22 million gallons of groundwater.