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EXCLUSIVE: EPA Investigates Hazmat Concerns In South Jersey

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By Cleve Bryan

ELK Twp., N.J., (CBS) — The Environmental Protection Agency is working to clean up rusting metal drums and other containers leaking hazardous materials on a commercial property.

The EPA gave CBS 3 Eyewitness News an exclusive tour along the property line of the Superior Barrel and Drum Company on Jacob Harris Lane in Elk Township where our cameras saw containers in various stages of disrepair.

“Some of them have holes in them, are missing their tops, and are leaking on to the ground,” says EPA Enforcement Officer Keith Glenn who is the on-scene coordinator.

Deputy Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management Director Len Clark says a fire marshal was doing a routine inspection of the property when he discovered the leaking barrels.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as well as the EPA became involved with cleaning up the site.

Glenn says the owner of Superior Barrel and Drum Company Thomas Toy would not allow the EPA on his property so they obtained a federal warrant.

“It appears the site has not been in use since Spring of 2012,” says Glenn, “we cannot assume that he has abandoned this property so a federal warrant was necessary to come onto the facility.”

Glenn says inspectors have sampled about 10 percent of the approximately 1,800 containers and found several hazardous materials, including corrosive and flammable chemicals.

Lab tests show volatile organic compounds such as benzene which is known to cause cancer as well as lead which is especially harmful to children.

Glenn says there soil sampling on the property showed contamination.  The biggest concern is run off into the watershed and surrounding properties.

Part of the Superior Barrel and Drum Company property includes federal wetlands. Glenn says water testing is not complete but given all the rain and condition of the leaking barrels it is a big concern that chemicals have spread off the property.

Starting this week hazmat teams built a barrier around the property to prevent further run off.  They will test the contents of every container before shipping them off for proper disposal.

Officials say it could take six months or longer to finish the job and it is common in these kind of cases to pursue the property owner for the costs.

The site is not in a residential area of Elk Township but as a precaution the EPA set up air monitoring equipment.

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