THE GREEN RABBIT BEGINNING
The cleanup of the Chemical Insecticide Corporation (CIC) Superfund site was the first project the EWA undertook. This 5-acre chemical wasteland was previously a manufacturing facility for agent orange. The land’s toxicity had a severe impact on human health and the environment, which led it to be featured in Molly Ivins’ bestselling book “Bushwhacked.” In 1989, EWA got involved after hearing that the only living things on the site were green rabbits poisoned by a chemical called Dinaseb.
This Superfund site is located in a residential neighborhood of Edison, NJ. Children were playing on this land and families were hunting the animals coming off of the CIC site. The chemical runoff was draining into homes, major roadways (Interstate 287, Route 1), and waterways that drain into the Raritan River, the longest river solely in New Jersey and food source to thousands. EWA staff worked with the federal Superfund program to first get the offsite areas downstream in the residential communities identified and cleaned up, and next get the site covered with a plastic tarp until detail studies could be done to determine the best cleanup option. EWA fought tirelessly by petitioning the government at every level to clean this toxic mess that had been making families sick and striping them off clean open space. Ultimately through perseverance, we were able to get almost $50 million dollars, meaning $10 million dollars per acre, to remove all the toxic soil, in some areas down to 30 feet, and replace it with clean dirt. We also worked with the state agencies to clean and restore several miles of waterways, contaminated with cancer causing arsenic. EWA utilized the state Green Acres Program to buy this area and preserve it in perpetuity, which was the first time this had been done in the State of New Jersey.
In 2015, EWA is working alongside the Township of Edison and Metuchen to create a dog park and other recreational amenities on this land to bring the community together and provide much needed open space. After more than 20 years of hard work, EWA is extremely pleased to bring this chapter to a close, taking what was once a toxic threat and turning it into a community asset.