Welcome to CRISIS
epa superfund sites new jersey
NJ superfund sites
CRISIS is the toxic waste cleanup advocacy group of Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. CRISIS has been providing critical and technical oversight on behalf of the public (regarding the American Cyanamid/Pfizer Superfund site) since 1992.


Newsletter Page

Winter 2018 Newsletter

November 2017
Crisis letter to EPA Review Board
Crucial positions on the most toxic lagoons

CRISIS Receives a 2016 EPA ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION AWARD recognizing 23 years of dedication to toxic waste cleanup in New Jersey.

One of six awards given to New Jersey organizations for outstanding environmental stewardship. From left to right: Murray Fisher of New York Harbor School, Ross Stander of CRISIS, James Crane of CRISIS, Emilie Stander of CRISIS and Judith Enck, The EPA Region 2 administrator.

EPA Press Release:

"For 23 years, CRISIS has served as an environmental and health protection group for the residents of Bridgewater and Somerset Counties in New Jersey regarding the remediation of the American Cyanamid Superfund Site. CRISIS reviewed, monitored and suggested environmental testing for the site and provided technical critiques of cleanup alternatives proposed for site. When the site-wide cleanup plan was finalized in 2015, it reflected years of work to ensure that community concerns were addressed."




From Ross Stander, Exec. Chairman

     Greetings at the start of a busy 2013/2014 year for the Cyanamid Superfund site.  Hope our members and other readers had a pleasant summer.  The site remediation program is at an intense level with preparation for the Pilot Tests at Impoundments 1&2 (also called OU8), along with the safety precautions and public information sessions that attend it.  Somewhat in the background for now is the start of the Remedial Design Engineering Phase for OU4 (basically the rest of the site problem areas excluding OU8) to implement the ROD (Record of Decision) issued by EPA in Sept. 2012 (which followed on the SWFS feasibility study turned in by Pfizer in early 2012).  It is a little early to discuss this OU4 issue now, except to remind our readers that CRISIS agreed to this ROD/SWFS only conditionally.  That is we specified a series of conditions that needed to be met for our agreement, and these were put off by EPA until the Remedial Design phase for OU4, so we are asking EPA and Pfizer to keep us up to date as this progresses (and not wait until the Remedial Design is nearly complete).  After CRISIS presented our reasoning, the Bridgewater Cyanamid Oversight Committee (BCOC) supported these “conditions” among the points it made in its own letter to EPA during 2012.

     I hope you have been reading our Tech Adviser’s (TA) Monthly Tech Reports (website and by email) that have been providing much background on a) the coming Pilot Tests on OU8, b) the good trend seen in lowered VOC/benzene levels in the Raritan River, particularly at the most important sampling position in the river near the seeping Impoundments 1&2; and c) the seeps discovered more recently in vicinity of Cuckel’s Brook which empties into the Raritan River.  Please go back to these TA Monthly Tech Reports (which also cover other subjects), and the FAQs sheet sent by email and on our website for more detail on the points to be covered below.

  1. Pilot Tests
  1. EPA Public Information Session:     On Oct. 24, 2013 US-EPA will host an information session for the general public on the Pilot Tests for OU8 at the Bridgewater Municipal Bldg. (see meeting notice on our website) from 6:30-8:30pm.  All interested communities are invited.  Bring questions and comments, and make it a lively meeting with EPA, Pfizer, CH2MHill, CRISIS and other environmental groups in attendance.  Meeting is subject to federal government shutdown ending in time; please watch for announcement.
  2. FAQs Sheet (Frequently Asked Questions):    Pfizer and its consultant Vita Nuova developed a FAQs sheet about the Pilot tests on OU8 for the public’s use.  CRISIS contributed many input questions that were used, and we have distributed the FAQs on our website (see new “Tab” with this heading) and by email to our readers.
  3. Equipment deliveries by contractors for the pilot test infrastructure have already started; some is heavy equipment like cranes, a large work-area platform, Flexifloats (which serve as barges on the impoundment-2 tars), several 15-ton caissons in which the treatment process tests are performed, and systems for VOC vapor treatment.   Pfizer says it will make serious efforts to limit community disruptions.
  4. An Emergency Management Services Briefing was held by Pfizer on Sept. 19, 2013, with local towns and Somerset County officials/squads (including Somerset Medical Center) in attendance.  This was in recognition that the Pilot Tests have associated potential hazards including fire, accidents and insect issues to site workers, and VOC air emissions.  Two members of the CRISIS Board attended the briefing and it appears to us that Pfizer, its consultants, and EPA have taken these matters very seriously and built strong emergency and contingency plans.  (See more on the FAQs sheet.)  The emergency squads went on a motor van visit to see the work area and access routes.
  5. Air Monitoring sensors/equipment for hazardous VOCs are being installed at the Pilot Test platform, and around the borders of the Cyanamid site, and the Pilot Test process systems will be shut down if the air-monitors show a problem.  24hr./ 7day per week security personnel will be on site.
  6. Actual Pilot Test processing is set to begin soon, probably in November and should be done by end of March 2014.  All this work will lead to an Impoundment 1&2 Focused Feasibilty Study (FFS) by end of 2014 perhaps.  From the completed laboratory evaluations and prior screenings, three alternative approaches to remediating (in-situ) tarry and crumbly VOC materials in Impoundments 1&2 will be pilot tested; the third of these (a combination of the first two) is in-situ volatilizing the VOCs (into a vapor treatment system on site) and then solidifying/stabilizing the residue in a cement like material.  If this can be done safely (part of the criterion for success), it seems this combination would be the best choice.  Ex-situ remediation of these two impoundments (that is, first excavating the materials as they currently exist) is considered by EPA impossibly hazardous to the community due to the toxic air emissions it would create (well above NJ-DEP limits).
  7. Some Additional Questions for the Oct. 24 meeting:
  • Which criteria will be used by Pfizer and then EPA (in the FFS) to determine if the Pilot Tests (of the three technologies) are successful, and scalable to “full production”                   by 2015 or 2016? 
  • How completely will they be able to volatilize the VOC/benzenes?
  • Will there be an early commitment to remove the residue of stabilized material out of Impoundments 1&2 to a safer location, at least back from the Raritan River or preferably off site?

  1. Cuckel’s Brook Seeps:

     Cuckel’s Brook runs through the Cyanamid site and drains into Raritan River.  Under normal weather conditions, water flow in the brook is of low volume.   Seeps of groundwater with high concentrations of VOCs/benzene were reported in recent months by Pfizer (also called legally, for this site, as Wyeth Holdings) at a few places in the vicinity of Cuckel’s.  CRISIS has been reporting on this since May 2013 in our Monthly Tech Reports.  CRISIS continues to be concerned about these seeps.  Our TA has reviewed Pfizer’s analysis so far, and tentatively agrees that due to low normal water flow in Cuckel’s, and with activated carbon bags now intercepting the seep flow, they may not present a serious hazard to the River.  CRISIS still questions what happens during heavy rains or flooding (increasing the flow in the brook) and has asked for more calculation of flow and VOC volume analysis by Pfizer and its consultants.

      The trend toward lower measured benzene levels in the Raritan River even near Impoundments 1&2, last measured as below the 0.15ppB regulatory value for surface water ( down from much higher levels before the seeps near Impoundments 1&2 were mitigated) is a sign that impacts of the several seeps are now subject to a higher degree of control.  We need to watch these readings closely.

       The promised permanent groundwater/VOC treatment plant for the site is progressing as Pfizer goes for regulatory permits and enters early design work.  While it should give the best treatment of the VOCs, it is a few years off at best.  Meanwhile, the modularly built groundwater/VOC treatment facility near Impoundments 1&2, that went into operation in Spring 2012, will continue at least until the permanent plant is ready.

CRISIS Organization News

     A meeting was held in Bridgewater during July 2013 – hosted by Pfizer and EPA—primarily to update CRISIS and other local government officials on the progress made in Pfizer’s and CH2MHILL’s laboratory treatability studies on Impoundments 1&2.  We were also updated on the plans for the Pilot Tests on these impoundments as discussed above.  Our three CRISIS Board members and our TA, Dr. Ira Whitman, attended.  The EPA sponsored public information session to explain this status to the general public is now scheduled for Oct. 24 as noted above.

     The renewed TAG grant for CRISIS from EPA continues ($50K for 34 months total as renewed from early this year).  These funds are restricted in use primarily to hiring/paying our TA on a monthly basis, and a small amount to supporting our website activities.    Other operations are funded by private contributions, which are always welcome in any amount (please see our website).   Volunteers to work on both short and longer term projects (interesting stuff such as media, education and health related) are needed.  Please contact me via our email address:  CRISISWATCH@Verizon.net.  Sunset Lake residents asked about supplying dredged material from that Lake for fill on the Cyanamid site.  We passed that request on to Pfizer and it will be considered down the road.

       We formed an Exec. Committee, tasked with overseeing management operations.  It consists of the Board plus James Crane of Somerville, a longstanding member.  Day to day management falls under direction of myself, as Exec Chairman, John Tucciarone as Treasurer and manager of our computer operations (excluding the website), and Casey Kittel, member, as manager of the website.  Our Exec. Director is still on leave.

       We have a Privacy Policy not to release our mailing lists (except under extraordinary circumstances), both for privacy and proprietary reasons.

Please turn out for the Oct. 24 public information meeting between 6:30 and 8:30pm at the Bridgewater Muni Building.  Watch for notices about meeting date if the federal government shut down is not resolved a reasonable time prior to this meeting date.

With best regards and thanks for our membership’s support from your Board.


CRISIS, Inc. is a Bridgewater/Somerset County-based environmental group that holds a federal grant to monitor the cleanup of the Pfizer/Wyeth Holdings (formerly American Cyanamid) Superfund site in Bridgewater (with several acres in Bound Brook), located adjacent to the Patriot’s Stadium.  It is one of the most complex hazardous waste projects in the country.  Our website, www.crisistoxicwatch.org provides further information about our non-profit group and the Cyanamid site.