GARFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Steps are finally being taken to resolve a long-standing pollution problem in Bergen County.
The site of a chromium acid leak nearly three decades ago will be torn down starting later this year.
A regional Environmental Protection Agency official made the announcement Wednesday outside the old E.C. Electroplating plant in Garfield.
WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports
“We are very dedicated to protecting public health,” regional EPA administrator Judith Enck told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.
The old factory spilled cancer-causing chromic acid into the groundwater and potentially into the nearby Passaic River.
“I mean, it’s no secret that you can’t drink the water in this neighborhood,” David Rieger told Putney.
But the EPA said that’s simply not the case.
“The contamination is not affecting the public water supply,” Enck said.
Enck said the toxic spill has leeched into more than a dozen nearby homes, however.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
“Some of that chromic acid seeped into groundwater. Eventually, that made it to buildings in the area,” Enck told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
One woman who lives just two doors down from the old plant said the demolition is long overdue.
“Our ground is still contaminated with chromium. I mean, cleaning up the building and knocking it down is not going to clean the groundwater,” Bernice Riccio told Putney.
Riccio said her basement has flooded several times over the years, and she’s worried that brought more contaminated water into her home each time.
“It’s a little too late. We’ve been going down there for 20-something years, my husband worked down there,” Riccio told Sandberg.
The Superfund site leaked 3,600 gallons of chromic acid back in 1983.
Crystal Lopez runs a daycare nearby and said she is concerned about possible health effects from the toxic site.
“They say it’s underground so I mean years later it could still affect so many people that live here. We take care of children right here, they’re outside playing in the backyard so that’s very nerve-wracking,” Lopez told Sandberg.
“I wanted to come to Garfield today to say that EPA is taking this site very seriously,” Enck said.
Demolition is set to begin in October.