Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. Expansion or redevelopment of superfund sites efforts are typically complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Contamination of these sites can occur whether the source of contaminates originates from on or off site. Due to the severe blight and public health impact contaminated sights have on the surrounding community, it is imperative that remediation efforts are embarked upon for the protection of the environment and public well-being.

The Raritan Bay Slag Site is located along a 1.3-mile stretch of waterfront park space in a section of Old Bridge Township New Jersey known as Laurence Harbor. The site was placed on the National Superfund List due to high levels of lead contamination.

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(Waterfront Park of Laurence Harbor)

Exposure to lead can cause neurological damage, kidney disease, cardiovascular problems, impaired growth of fetus, and reproductive toxicity. Furthermore, such contamination threatens to destroy the delicate ecological estuarine ecosystem within Laurence Harbor’s waters. The severity of the site is obvious not only through its clear hazards to both human and ecological health but also through its 2007 identification as a Superfund site. Only 2% of New Jersey’s brownfield sites fall into this category, they are classified as the most severe with immediate major issues that need to be addressed.

The waterfront is an integral part of community life within Laurence Harbor, recreational activities such as fishing and swimming center around the bay. Not only is fishing considered a source of recreation, fish are also consumed by families of the surrounding areas. When contamination was discovered on the site, the EPA made concerted efforts to close the waterfront. On paper such efforts proved to be successful. A split rail fence was installed surrounding the areas of concern and aggressive signs with strict language were posted.

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(Sign warning of site contamination)

Despite the signage posted at the site, the community does not perceive such contamination. Many individuals continue to swim and fish in the waterfront, with the local bait shop even promoting the nearby waterfront fishing piers. The majority of the community fails to believe such contamination claims are real, if they have even heard of the contamination at all. Despite attempts to guard the contaminated area, many individuals are able to bypass fence due to openings along the waterfront.

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(Fence Opening along the waterfront)

Despite the signage posted at the site, the community does not perceive such contamination. Many individuals continue to swim and fish in the waterfront, with the local bait shop even promoting the nearby waterfront fishing piers. The majority of the community fails to believe such contamination claims are real, if they have even heard of the contamination at all. Despite attempts to guard the contaminated area, many individuals are able to bypass fence due to openings along the waterfront.

In 2009 NL Industries was established as the responsible party. The EPA is currently in negotiations with NL Industries to further pursue clean up efforts. The process is expected to take 5-7 years depending on negotiations and additional funding sources. For the benefit of the ecological environment, and the community’s public health, it is imperative that concerted efforts are executed to pursue remediation efforts.

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