State lawmaker seeks removal of Edge Moor waste

The News Journal | by Jeff Montgomery

A Newark lawmaker has opened a petition campaign to compel the removal of 500,000 tons of waste in a 15-acre landfill on Chemours property near the company’s soon-to-close Edge Moor pigment plant.

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark South, said he was concerned by the possibility that Chemours would sell its plant, creating what he said was a risk that pollution would escape under new ownership or if the land was eventually abandoned. That could leave taxpayers with the cleanup costs, he said, if contaminants in the pile soaked into groundwater or if the landfill cover was breached.

“It will be a perpetual threat to the health of residents, and an obstacle to safe reuse of the site,” the petition, posted on’s petition site, said. The page had collected 211 signatures by Sunday evening.

Chemours spokeswoman Janet Smith said that the company had no plans to sell the landfill area, and would continue to manage it under commitments made to DNREC and federal officials several years ago.

“One thing the [web] site suggested was Chemours was going to sell the Hay Road site,” Smith said. “That’s not correct. It is not going to be sold. It is going to continue to be managed by us. We’re going to continue to do it responsibly,” Smith said.

Chemours split away from DuPont earlier this year, taking with it several units, including titanium dioxide production.

Federal officials declared the ore-processing leftovers from previous owner DuPont’s Edge Moor titanium dioxide pigment plant potentially hazardous in 2001, stranding a stockpile that the company once hoped to market as a fill material or water treatment product.

Company and federal scientists determined that Edge Moor’s methods of heating titanium ore together with chlorine generated relatively large amounts of dioxins, a class of long-lived, toxic chemicals associated with the notorious Vietnam defoliant Agent Orange, among other links.

Other contaminants also raised concerns about the material, once sold under the name Iron Rich.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control subsequently ordered the company to propose a safe disposal plan and agreed to consider keeping the material in place as a permanently covered landfill. At the time, DuPont warned that removal to a hazardous waste disposal site could cost $380 million.

Kowalko said that he was never satisified with DNREC’s terms for capping the landfill, and has sought reviews of studies used to support the solution in the past.

Smith said the company had installed “a very robust” cap that includes a waterproof cover, topped with soil and vegetation. A 1.5 megawatt solar field, with 4,500 panels, has since been installed atop the site.

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