Monday, May 22, 2023

EPA and State of New Jersey Propose Settlement with Bank of America for Monmouth County, NJ Superfund Site Cleanup

On May 15, 2023 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed settlement with Bank of America to address the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Area Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site in Wall Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Under the proposed agreement, Bank of America, the current owner of the White Swan property, will be required to fund and perform vapor intrusion and groundwater cleanup work at an estimated cost of $29 million.

"With this settlement EPA is holding Bank of America accountable for its share of the cleanup at the White Swan site," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. " After years of investigation and cleanup efforts, this is a significant step towards resolving the contamination issues at the site for the benefit of the community, the environment, and public health."

“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are committed to protecting the health of those who live and work in the vicinity of the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners site,” New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette said. “We have partnered together to test indoor air at hundreds of business and residential properties and installed ventilation systems on dozens with vapor intrusion concerns. This settlement with Bank of America ensures that long term cleanup, including remediation of contaminated groundwater and future vapor mitigation work, will be funded by the responsible party, not by the taxpayers.”

Bank of America became legally responsible for the site when it bought the White Swan property through a series of bank mergers and acquisitions in 2004.

Bank of America also will reimburse EPA for certain aspects of its cleanup work, paying $10.8 million, and pay up to $1.5 million for future EPA oversight costs. As part of the agreement, Bank of America will construct and then run the groundwater pump and treatment system for four years to capture and clean the most highly contaminated groundwater at the site.

The company will pay up to a total of $6.5 million to the State of New Jersey to settle its liability for cleanup and removal costs, to voluntarily resolve its liability for natural resource damages (NRD), and to address long-term operational needs of the treatment system. This amount includes $3.7 million for cleanup costs and $2.8 million set aside in an escrow account for any future groundwater system operation and maintenance or added vapor intrusion work needed after the State takes over the cleanup.

Vapor intrusion occurs when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from contaminated soil and groundwater seep into buildings, potentially exposing occupants to harmful chemicals. EPA has found that the former dry-cleaning operations of White Swan Cleaners and Sun Cleaners were the sources of soil and groundwater contamination. VOCs from the contamination can easily evaporate into the air and cause health hazards. EPA added the site to the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2004. In the course of the cleanup, EPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) have installed several indoor air ventilation systems after conducting indoor air testing on residential and commercial properties. In 2018, EPA also oversaw Bank of America’s removal of contaminated soil from the White Swan property. Cleanup of the Sun property, which is not related to the White Swan property, is being funded by EPA.

The proposed consent decree, which has been lodged in the U.S. Federal District Court of New Jersey, is subject to a 60-day comment period. The Department of Justice and EPA will evaluate the comments and decide whether to proceed and then, if appropriate, seek final approval by the court.

For more information, to view the proposed consent decree and to give comments, please visit:

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