Order amid Chaos

Public Tour of the Ciba Geigy
Superfund Site

April 17, 1999

Our public tour of Ciba Geigy started with an overview of the site by representatives of both the Environmental Protection Agency and Ciba Specialty Chemicals.

Equalization Basins We were then taken on a bus tour of the Ciba Geigy Superfund site in Toms River, once a dye manufacturing facility and now the site of an environmental remediation project to remove groundwater contamination. The commercial operations on the property have ceased and the sole purpose that anyone has on the site at this time is the toxic chemical clean-up.

Almost all the buildings on the site have been razed with only a few remaining. It is an eerie sight as all of the trees and shrubs still stand where they were used as landscaping around buildings that are now gone. Sidewalks lead up to nothing but grass. Parking lots are abandoned, old with grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement.

There are several large mounds, grass covered and silent. But if one looked at them long enough, they could hear all of the thousands of barrels of chemical waste calling out -- a time bomb that is going off right now and has been for years.
Discharge of Treated Water The deteriorating coffins of chemical waste sit in their grave twenty feet beneath the ground, leaking into our aquifer.

Monitoring well pipes stick out in various places. These wells and above-ground water lines are everywhere bringing polluted ground water to the water treatment facility. Old sandpits which were once used as equalization basins now stand empty. Their purpose was to hold the highly toxic waste water so that it could seep into the now highly toxic earth.

Large holding tanks sit quietly as monuments to the toxic water they hold. It is pumped there from the barrel burial grounds to prevent further leaching of those chemicals into the extensive plume below. A huge building full of giant filters cleans up to a million gallons a day of the raw toxic water.

At the north end of the property, the treated water is released, pouring out of a pipe into a manmade bog where dead pine trees stand witness amid the treated water as it is returned to its source.

For years, the by-products of the chemical manufacturing processes were disposed of in various ways. The chemical compounds were released into large open pits, they were packaged into drums which were then buried, they were discharged into the Toms River, and they were flushed into the Atlantic Ocean through an ocean discharge pipeline.

The citizens of Dover Township will be paying a price for years to come for the lack of environmental awareness and for companies who are more concerned with profits than the well being of the public.

The clean-up of the Ciba Geigy Superfund Site is currently being discussed at public meetings in Toms River. For more information about the clean-up effort, visit this website often to read the constant updates, and attend the public meetings in Toms River. Go to "How to Help" to find out the meeting times and places.