Health officials: Fumes from superfund site are harmful after all

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New Jersey health officials say that fumes coming off a Bergen County Superfund site during cleanup were harmful.

Edgewater residents who lived near the Quanta Superfund site had complained about the odor of tar and mothballs during the cleanup. Some said that the smell caused them to have headaches, burning eyes and nausea. Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency said at the time that the odors were not harmful.

The Superfund site sits between River Road and the Hudson River. The $78 million cleanup is the responsibility of Honeywell. That cleanup is currently on pause.

People who live near the site tell News 12 New Jersey that they were surprised to find out that the fumes were toxic.

Officials say that the cleanup was unleashing a chemical called naphthalene. The study found that from July 2017 to March 2018, levels were at 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. Levels over 500 micrograms can be harmful.

The study went on to say that naphthalene exposure can cause headaches and nausea, respiratory irritation, exacerbation of preexisting respiratory conditions and/or irritation of the nasal passage and airways.

The levels were taken from air monitors surrounding the site, which are still being monitored. The Quanta plant that sat here recycled waste oil. Prior to Quanta, tar for roofing was made there. There's also arsenic in the ground left over from another chemical company.

A community meeting is expected to take place on April 9 to discuss the state’s findings.

Cleanup is expected to resume in May. Officials say that there are plans to install tents powered by large generators to keep the toxins from escaping into the air.


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