The Berry's Creek Study Area (BCSA) is a sediment "Mega Site" located in Bergen County, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is an urban mix of industrial, commercial and residential properties. Berry's Creek itself is a tidal tributary of the Hackensack River, and its watershed encompasses approximately 12 square miles of marshes. The watershed has been found to contain elevated levels of contaminants of potential concern (COPCs) that have migrated to the watershed from various point and non-point sources. A group of potentially responsible parties (BCSA Cooperating PRP Group, or Group) has formed to conduct an RI/FS at the site. In 2007, the Group selected Geosyntec to lead a team to develop and implement the three-phased RI/FS. Ultimately, the results of the RI/FS will be used by U.S. EPA to prepare a Record of Decision.
Geosyntec's Scope of Services
Geosyntec is conducting the RI/FS with a U.S. EPA-approved Work Plan describing a sampling program designed to collect the appropriate data. The purpose of the RI is to identify the nature and extent of contamination in the BCSA and potential human and ecological risks posed by the COPCs. The Work Plan focuses sampling efforts and guides data collection to support risk-based remedial actions. Marshes adjacent to the Creek are included in the study to evaluate the ecological relationships and exchanges of COPCs between these areas. Geosyntec is collecting the data necessary to achieve an equitable and scientifically defensible remedy decision. We are using the study results to prepare an FS to assess possible remedies for the BCSA that address the identified remedial action objectives. The ultimate work product produced will be a remedial plan that cost-effectively addresses the potential pathways of human health and ecological risk.
The RI/FS tasks have been organized into three phases. These three phases are being conducted to allow an adaptive site management approach. Phase 1 is designed to emphasize characterization of the site hydrodynamics, initiate routine monitoring, and obtain an assessment of the horizontal distribution of the COPCs in sediment, marshes, surface water, and biological samples. Phase 2 is designed as a follow-up investigation to focus on areas of concern identified in Phase 1. Phase 2 will include toxicity testing, marsh sampling, and coring to establish the vertical extent of COPCs. Phase 3 includes routine monitoring and sampling to fill any data gaps. The FS has been initiated and is being performed in parallel with the RI to ensure sampling provides meaningful data for identification, evaluation and recommendation of a practical risk-based remedial alternative. This phased approach will allow for iterative field sampling and for further refinement of the Data Quality Objectives and COPCs.
The current scope of work includes the characterization of the physical template; development of the water budget and conceptual site model; sediment, surface water, marsh biota and hydrodynamic sampling; a cultural resource assessment; hydrodynamic and biogeochemical modeling; and a human health and ecological risk assessment.
There are several specific challenges that make this site unique. First is the sheer magnitude of this Mega Site, including marshes, the creek and its tributaries. Second, the creek is tidal and has several tide gates located along its length. These factors strongly influence the hydrodynamics of the system. Another challenge is the fact that the BCSA is one of the first sites in the country to be addressed as an entire watershed; there is little guidance or precedent for this work. Large portions of the site include a dense and sometimes impenetrable marsh dominated by Phragmites australis, a tall, aggressive and unruly invasive species of reed, making access yet another challenge. Finally, the project includes a large number of analytical samples which will require rigorous oversight to avoid errors and maintain quality.