The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

American Cyanamid Agrees to Clean Up Jersey Water Source

American Cyanamid, a leading U.S. chemical manufacturer, has agreed to develop a plan to remove pollutants from New Jersey's second-largest source of drinking water and to prevent further contamination of the water, as ordered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

American Cyanamid's chemical plant in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey is located near the Brunswick aquifer, which contains several trillion gallons of water and serves 650,000 consumers in a five-county region. An aquifer is a large moving underground lake from which water is tapped for use in industry and private wells. Based on data supplied by American Cyanamid and samplings of water in the aquifer, the DEP has found the groundwater to contain solid and liquid wastes, dyes, and suspected chemical carcinogens such as benzene, trichlorethylene, and chloroform.

"There is no dispute as to where the pollutants come from," admitted American Cyanamid's public relations officer Charles Sankhauser. The chemicals have accumulated over the past 66 years, he said, and during that time, "the common practice in the chemical industry and in most other industries was to store waste on the plant site in wastes and lagoons. Certainly today, that is not acceptable."

The DEP's order, which is the biggest administrative order it has ever issued, asks American Cyanamid to carry out further sampling of the water to clearly define the problem, to present engineering plans on ways of preventing ground water contamination, and to continue to pump water from the site. The company's cleanup, which is still being developed, must also prevent leaks and provide for unpredictable occurrences which might lead to ground water contamination.

- Elaine Song

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