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Order amid Chaos

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July 2000

Knowing the limits of the Toms River cancer cluster
One of the questions often asked, is the cancer cluster in Toms River real since it is just a little high statistically? The answer is, of course, the cancer cluster is real. One must understand the limits placed on the cancer cluster investigation in order to understand whether or not, it is just a little high statistically or do we really know how high it is?
Toms River Cancer Cluster limits

Pictured above is an illustration of a box that has limits placed on it. It is a representative image of the cancer cluster. The size of the cancer cluster or box is controlled by the limitations placed on each of the four sides of the box. The total box (Blue and Yellow sections) represents the current cancer cluster investigation, with the age limit being 0-19 years of age. The State of New Jersey tried to lower the age limit to 0-14 years of age, the smaller yellow box. The smaller the box the less statistical evidence of a cancer cluster. One could make it look like the cancer cluster disappeared if you lowered the limitations on just one of the sides.

Even with these limitations, the Toms River Cancer Cluster is still statistically high. One hundred and ten children to date have been diagnosed with cancer, and the latest numbers aren't yet available.



We acknowledge the US EPA commitment to working with citizens and citizens groups, and for not using thermal treatment as a cleanup option for the Ciba Geigy Superfund Site here in Toms River, NJ.

Ciba Geigy Superfund Site
Illustrated above is an image of the Ciba Geigy Superfund Site
and the surrounding community.

Summary of the EPA Ciba Geigy cleanup
options that were selected

SUMMARY OF THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE
EPA Document

The preferred alternative for cleaning up the Ciba-Geigy Chemical Company site is Alternative 5a, On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material. This alternative was chosen as the preferred alternative because it will effectively address the primary Remedial Action Objective for the site -- to decrease the time frame of the OUI groundwater remedy. While the On-site Thermal Treatment, Combination and Off-site Disposal Alternatives will result in greater reduction in the volume of contaminants in the soil, the On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material is as effective as these alternatives in reducing the impact of the source areas on the groundwater, based on the results of the on-site pilot test of this technology.

The On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material Alternative was selected instead of the On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation Alternative because the local community expressed concerns related to the on-site treatment of drummed material. The only difference between Alternative 5a, On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material, and Alternative 5, On site Ex-situ Bioremediation, is that Alternative 5a requires that all drummed material be treated or disposed of off-site.

The On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material is significantly less costly than the Off-site Disposal Alternative and, as stated previously, is effective in achieving the Remedial Action Objectives for the site. The availability of treatment facilities to accept a large volume of hazardous soil could also represent a significant impact on the cost and short-term effectiveness of the Off-site Disposal Alternative. Therefore, the Off-site Disposal Alternative was eliminated from consideration.

The On-site Thermal Treatment and Combination Alternatives are as effective in achieving the Remedial Action Objectives as the preferred alternative. However, permitting issues associated with the thermal treatment components of these alternatives may result in delays in implementation. In addition, the local community has expressed concerns related to the thermal treatment technology. Therefore, the On-site Thermal Treatment and Combination Alternatives were eliminated from consideration.

The Natural Attenuation and Containment Alternatives do not achieve the same level of toxicity and volume reduction and long-term effectiveness as the On-site Ex-situ Bioremediation with Off-site Treatment/Disposal of Drummed Material. Although the Containment Alternative would significantly reduce leaching from the source areas to the groundwater, the volume and toxicity of contaminants in the source areas would remain unchanged. Therefore, these alternatives were eliminated from consideration.

The major components of the preferred remedy for the site include:

  • On-site bioremediation of approximately 145,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil.

  • Off-site thermal treatment of approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. This material contains contaminants that are not suited to bioremediation. This volume represents an estimate and is subject to change based on field sampling.

  • Off-site treatment of approximately 19,500 drums of filtercakes and lab wastes containing high levels of organic contaminants. The number of drums that will require off-site treatment is an estimate and is subject to change based on field sampling.

  • Off-site disposal of approximately 12,350 drums of solid waste and material containing low levels of organic contaminants.

  • Installation of caps and barrier walls in areas of the site where the Cohansey Yellow Clay is present. This perched water management system will prevent the movement of contaminants from the clay into the Primary Cohansey Aquifer. The cap in the Filtercake Disposal Area will also address the potential direct contact risks associated with the surface soils in this area.

  • Implementation of an in-situ bioremediation system in the Equalization Basins to address contamination below the groundwater.

  • Stabilization of portions of the Lime Sludge Disposal Area that do not meet leaching standards.

  • Establishment of deed restrictions to regulate the use of certain areas of the site and prevent intrusive activities in areas of the site that are capped.

  • Optimization of the OU1 Groundwater Extraction and Recharge System.

    Based on the information available at this time, EPA and the State of New Jersey believe the preferred alternative will be protective of human health and the environment, will comply with ARARS, will be cost-effective, and will utilize permanent solutions and alternative treatment technologies to the maximum extent practicable. Because it will treat contaminated material, the remedy will meet the statutory preference for the selection of a remedy that involves treatment as a principle element. The preferred remedy can change in response to public comment or new information.

    COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION


    EPA and NJDEP provided information regarding the cleanup of the Ciba-Geigy site to the public through public meetings, public availability sessions, the Administrative Record file for the site, and announcements published in the Asbury Park Press and the Ocean County Observer. EPA held public meetings on October 15,1998, February 10, March 23 and 25, April 29, June 17, August 5 and 26,1999, and January 19, 2000. Public availability sessions were held on November 10,1999 and January 26, 2000. EPA and Ciba also held site tours on December 3,1998, April 17 and 21, 1999 and January 22, 2000.

    EPA and the State encourage the public to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the site and the Superfund activities that have been conducted at the site.


  • The next public meeting on the Citizen Action Committee on Childhood Cancer Cluster is July 17,2000 at 7:00pm.
  • The previous cover page can be found under "RESOURCES", Previous Month's Cover Pages.