EPA announces takeover of Raritan Bay superfund site
Thursday was one of those days where you just wanted to find the nearest lake or river and jump right in.
Unfortunately, in New Jersey that's often not possible.
Newspaper accounts show the Swimming River in Red Bank 100 years ago was so popular for swimming, there was a clamor for bathhouses to be built to accommodate the crowds. Today, no one swims in the Swimming River. Like so many New Jersey waterways, it's too polluted.
We've all just kind of forgotten that it was ever even possible. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Federal Clean Water Act, which set the goal of making all US waterways safe for swimming. Today, 76% of New Jersey's rivers lakes and ponds still don't meet that goal. Some of the largest lakes, like Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake, have been closed to swimming for long stretches in recent years due to algae blooms fueled by polluted runoff. Large stretches of salt waterways, like Barnegat Bay, remain on the brink of environmental collapse.
Just up road from the Swimming River is another beach on Raritan Bay, closed to swimming in Laurence Harbor. It's a federal superfund site, where the sea wall was built with industrial waste from the company National Lead.
Rep. Frank Pallone and EPA administrator Michael Regan and other officials met there Tuesday to announce a federal takeover of the long-stalled cleanup they say will speed it up. They were surrounded by members of a community advisory group who saw the situation and refused to accept it as the norm.
EPA officials say they're taking over the design of the Laurence Harbor project because they were unsatisfied with the plans submitted by National Lead, who are responsible for the cleanup.
It was designated a superfund site in 2009.