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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 22, 2008

Heather Howard
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
Sherwin-Williams Draft Public Health Assessment Released for Public Comment


 

 

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have released for public comment a health assessment on the former Sherwin-Williams paint and varnish manufacturing site and nearby areas in Gibbsboro, Camden County.

 

The public may submit written comments on the report through November 21, 2008. 

 

The assessment, currently in draft form for public comment, concludes that the Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek area poses a public health hazard because people exposed in the past to lead and arsenic from the site are at increased risk for health problems.

 

These exposures were reduced or eliminated beginning in 1999 when contaminated soil was removed from parts of the site and a fence constructed along the northern bank of the creek.

 

However, the site’s environmental and health impacts are not fully understood, the report says.  Further soil testing, testing of the area’s fish and game, and indoor air testing in nearby homes and office buildings are needed to better identify any other potential health issues.

 

The 60-acre Sherwin-Williams/Hilliard site was formerly used for paint and varnish manufacturing, which ended in 1976.  Waste from the plant, which permanently closed in 1978, was disposed of on site, in nearby Hilliards Creek, at the Route 561 Dump Site and at the United States Avenue Burn Site.

 

Lead, volatile organic compounds and other contaminants have been found in groundwater at the former Sherwin-Williams facility.  Lead and arsenic were found in the sediment, floodplain soil and wetlands associated with Hilliards Creek.  The contamination extends from the former Sherwin-Williams facility along the entire length of the creek

 

Sherwin-Williams, the Route 561 site, and the United States Avenue site are all included on the National Priorities List, commonly known as the Superfund Site List. DHSS and ATSDR conduct health assessments on Superfund sites to find out if people are or were exposed to site contamination, to identify health risks from exposures, and to recommend further steps to protect public health.

 

          In the past, Hilliards creek and nearby lakes were used for swimming, fishing and other recreational uses.  People may have been exposed to contaminants by accidentally swallowing sediment from the creek or adjacent floodplain and wetlands.

 

Other potential exposures include drinking affected well water, eating fish and game caught locally, or breathing air in the on-site buildings.  

 

          Data from New Jersey’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Surveillance System were reviewed as part of the public health assessment.  For the years 1999 to 2006, no Gibbsboro children were found to have blood lead levels above the guideline set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Blood lead levels in Gibbsboro children were similar to statewide average levels.

 

          The assessment recommends that:   

 

  • plants and animals, especially fish and game consumed by residents, be tested for contaminants
  • indoor air of nearby homes and office buildings be tested for site-related contaminants
  • current fencing and signs on the site be maintained and inspected
  • residential properties and other affected areas be completely investigated and remediated as soon as feasible
  • surface level soil samples be collected to better determine likely exposures through ingestion

 

The public may comment on the draft health assessment until November 21, 2008.  Please send your comments to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Consumer and Environmental Health Services, Hazardous Site Health Evaluation Program, P.O. Box 369, Trenton, NJ 08625-0369.

 

DHSS and ATSDR will hold a community meeting upon request to answer questions and get feedback before finalizing the health assessment.

 

Copies of the health assessment and accompanying Citizen’s Guide can be obtained by calling (609) 584-5367 or visiting the DHSS web site at: www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/cehsweb/index.html.  The document also is available at the Gibbsboro Public Library, 49 Kirkwood Rd., Gibbsboro.

 

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