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Roche wants public feedback on cleanup

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

NUTLEY –

For the latest on what Roche has done, and what it plans to do, to leave a clean site after it leaves its headquarters on the Nutley/Clifton border at the end of 2015, residents are invited to a public meeting May 29.

Roche representatives will share the findings of the environmental investigation the company has conducted over the past year and a half and will outline how it plans to address groundwater contamination in an area just south of Rt. 3.

The meeting will take place at the administration building on its Nutley campus at 340 Kingsland St. from 7 to 9 p.m. Roche spokeswoman Darien Wilson said the company will advise the community about plans to accommodate parking for the public at a later date.

Members of the public can get an advance look at Roche’s thinking about how it intends to proceed with the cleanup by visiting its website at www.roche-nutley.com and viewing “Roche Fact Sheet: Proposed Cleanup Plan for Groundwater at Investigative Area-12” and “Investigative Area 1A-12 – Feasibility Study for Development of Response Action for Groundwater.”

The same information is also available at the Nutley Public Library and at the Clifton Public Library and Allwood Branch.

The public is being invited to offer feedback to the Area 1A-12 groundwater cleanup plan through June 2 by submitting written comments to either Teresa O’Meara, manager, Roche Site Environmental, Health & Safety, 340 Kingsland St., Nutley, N.J. 07110 or email her at Teresa. omeara@roche.com or to Dawn Pompeo, LSRP project coordinator for Roche Nutley, in care of TRC Environmental Corp., 41 Spring St., New Providence, N.J. 07974 or email her at dpompeo@trcsolutions.com.

Wilson said that Roche has, to date, put its money where its mouth is. “Over the years we’ve spent a significant amount on ongoing remediation on the site as well as the current investigation.” Wilson said the company has committed an estimated $200 millionplus in personnel and financial resources to the cleanup effort.

A Roche fact sheet defines the Investigative Area 1A-12 as about 17 acres in the northern portion of its property. The area is bordered by the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks to the west, the Roche campus to the south, and Rt. 3 to the north. Most of the tract “is covered by asphalt pavement and several structures, including the Rt. 3 guard house and two other buildings.”

Roche said that the soil it has begun to clean “contains metals such as arsenic, manganese and lead, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from historic fill used to raise the site elevation before Roche purchased the property.”

Environmental experts consulted by the company recommend “removing the [toxic] soil, sending it to a licensed and approved treatment facility, and then returning the cleaned soil back to the location for reuse,” Roche said.

Roche said the remediation technique recommended for soils with metals is removing that soil and disposing it off-site at an appropriate facility; for soils with commingled metals and PAHs, the plan recommended is sending the soil to a licensed facility to treat the PAHs and disposing the soil off-site at an approved facility.

These cleanup strategies, said Roche, are “designed to allow for optimal use of the property in the future.”

All of the proposed cleanup operation is being confined to the Roche campus in Nutley, the company said.

Roche has been gathering information on groundwater samples from its property which has so far revealed the presence of industrial chemicals, primarily perchloroethylene (perc), an organic solvent commonly found in the area, which is used in dry cleaning, degreasing, printing inks, adhesives and shoe polish. Perc and related compounds have been found in off-site monitoring wells on the campus’s southern border, the company said.

Its findings are being reported to Nutley and Clifton, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection, Roche said.

Among the remediation technologies Roche said it’s evaluating for the Nutley site are:

• Heating contaminated soil  and groundwater to convert toxins into vapors drawn into wells for above-ground treatment.

• Using organic sources, nutrients, electron acceptors or microbial cultures to degrade groundwater contamination.

• Applying vacuum pres sure to extract air and vapor from the ground for aboveground treatment.

• Feeding the soil food based additives, like emulsified vegetable oil, to purify the toxins.

• Installing a permeable  wall with reactive material below ground to trap toxins as groundwater moves through it.

• Injecting oxidants, “reducing agents” or “electron donors” below the surface to destroy contaminants.

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