Carteret, NJ – Mayor Daniel J. Reiman announced, in a mail out from his office to area residents that U.S. Metals Refining Company (USMR) will begin conducting testing of additional properties within the Borough. The soil testing will determine whether the environmental impacts from the former USMR smelting operations extend further than originally believed by the company.
“U.S. Metals has acknowledged that their past operation in Carteret has impacted soil around their former plant. They will expand the scope of their investigation based upon test results from previous soil samples that were taken from properties within the original sample area. The Borough has long argued to expand the size and quantity of testing sites. The results have caused them to question whether their original efforts were comprehensive enough. We have insisted all along that they conduct a complete and thorough environmental impact investigation and to clean-up any contamination caused by their former operations and they are now beginning to do that,” said Mayor Reiman.
Reiman was referring to a 2012 lawsuit brought by the Borough against U.S. Metals for Natural Resource Damages which resulted in U.S. Metals agreeing to test and remediate any and all properties impacted by their operations and to pay a monetary penalty to the Borough. In exchange, Carteret agreed to stay any legal action for a period of five (5) years allowing USMR time to test & remediate properties.
As a result of the agreement reached by the Borough, U.S. Metals has conducted soil testing on properties located in neighborhoods immediately adjacent to their former copper smelting operation. The initial round of testing included approximately 60 properties east of Roosevelt Avenue near Carteret’s southeastern border with Woodbridge. The results of those tests were used by U.S. Metals to identify boundaries for a more comprehensive round of testing and remediation. All properties located within those boundaries were eligible to be tested by U.S. Metals with owner consent and, if contamination was found, it would be remediated by U.S. Metals. A letter was distributed to all residents whose properties may be affected by the investigation, of which participation is voluntary.
“The Borough wants to make sure that the remedial actions of U.S. Metals are consistent with the Borough’s goal of a complete remediation of impacted properties. Our professionals are monitoring the project very closely to make sure that U.S. Metals honors its commitment under the agreement.” Reiman added, “Our team has insisted at all stages of the project that U.S. Metals conduct further testing to ensure that the impact zone is as comprehensive as possible.” Residential areas added to the sampling window will include areas north-west of the US Metals site extending north to Romanowski Street, west to Linden Street and South to Arthur Ave. The properties chosen were interspersed geographically throughout the Borough and do not indicate the areas are thought to be contaminated or in need of remediation. The properties being sampled were selected to ensure the investigation is comprehensive and thorough in scope.
Reiman said, “In addition to the NJDEP Licensed Site Remediation professional hired by U.S. Metals to oversee the project, our environmental team will be monitoring the clean-up, reviewing test results and offering input to ensure that the Borough’s interests and the health of residents are being protected.”
US Metals operated a copper and fine metals smelting facility along the Arthur Kill from 1906 until 1986 when it was closed. The company was eventually acquired by Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the largest producer of copper and molybdenum in the world. As the successor company of US Metals, Freeport-McMoRan is still liable for the costs associated with the investigation and remediation. “The US Metals site is one of many examples of this administration aggressively taking action against polluters to protect the environment and public health. We will use every avenue available to hold polluters accountable for past practices that have done harm to our community and environment,” said Mayor Reiman. “It is fitting companies like US Metals and E.I. DuPont are being compelled to restore the land through remediation, instead of allowing desolate and contaminated sites to serve as reminders of the past.”