OLD BRIDGE — The federal government is stepping in to advance cleanup efforts at a Superfund site that's been dealing with contamination issues for decades.

Citing design work by NL Industries that failed to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, the EPA on Thursday announced that it will take over completing the design plans to support the Seawall Sector of the site cleanup.

"But I want to make it clear, the polluter will pay us for the resources to do the redesign," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

The Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site is contaminated with elevated concentrations of lead, arsenic, and copper. According to the EPA, a seawall and jetty at the site, located in Sayreville and the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge, were constructed using slag, which is waste from the bottom of industrial blast furnaces.

"By taking over the work, EPA will ensure that the design is completed in a technically sound manner that will lead to a successful cleanup of the Seawall Sector," Regan said.

The Superfund site is approximately 1.5 miles in length. The primary sources of contamination, according to the EPA, are slag and battery casings.

EPA has also started design work for the Jetty Sector of the site and will begin cleanup work there once work at the Seawall Sector is complete.

"This is a big day for the Old Bridge community, which will ultimately be able to use the space without fear of the health risks that come with living near a Superfund site," said Congressman Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District.

An estimated 50% of New Jersey's population lives within three miles of a Superfund site. The Raritan Bay site was placed on EPA's Superfund National Priorities List in 2009.

Earlier this year, Pallone reintroduced legislation that would reinstate Superfund taxes on corporate polluters that expired in 1995.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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