VINELAND — More than a century ago, the Kil-Tone Company facility opened on Chestnut Avenue and workers began manufacturing pesticides. Arsenic and lead released from the factory seeped into the groundwater and soil of the surrounding area, leaving contamination that’s still present today.
Now, the federal government is unveiling part of a plan to clean up about 40 polluted nonresidential properties in the city.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed removing 57,800 cubic yards of soil from dozens of properties between Almond Street and Washington Avenue near the Kil-Tone Company Superfund Site, which was designated as such in 2016. The facility at 527 E. Chestnut Ave. stopped manufacturing pesticides in 1933 and is now owned by a sign-making company.
“EPA’s cleanup plan to address these nonresidential properties in Vineland builds on previous work by our state partners and reflects our coordinated effort to protect people’s health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez.
The proposed cleanup would cost about $36 million, the EPA said in a news release. Soil would be excavated from each affected property and taken off site to be disposed of. Every five years, the EPA would review the cleanup.
Similar work already began on 60 other residential properties under the first stage of the cleanup. Six were completed in 2018 and an additional 27 are undergoing work now, according to the EPA.
Neighbors in 2015 were told by the EPA not to allow their children to play near the four-acre facility. Arsenic causes cancer, among other health problems, while lead is a toxic metal that can damage a child’s ability to learn.
The EPA says it conducted soil and groundwater samples between September 2017 and March 2018. Soil samples at adjacent and nearby properties showed concentrations of arsenic up to 15,900 mg/kg and lead up to 16,100 mg/kg. New Jersey’s standard levels are 19 mg/kg for arsenic and 800 ppmm for lead.
Kil-Tone is one of two active Superfund sites in Vineland. The other is Vineland Chemical at 1611 W. Wheat Road, where arsenic pollution made its way into the Blackwater Branch of the Maurice River.
Other sites in the region are in a long-term monitoring phase, and no physical work is being done.
“(Kil-Tone’s second) phase of work reflects EPA’s commitment to prioritize the Superfund program,” Lopez said, “and ensure that these sites are cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.”
The EPA will hold a public meeting on the plan at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at Gloria M. Sabater Elementary School, 301 S. East Blvd. Public comment will be accepted until Aug. 28.