Berry’s Creek is a tidal tributary in Bergen County, NJ between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, which extends almost seven miles from its discharge into the Hackensack River upstream towards its origins just south of Teterboro Airport. The approximately 12 square miles of the Berry’s Creek water shed (about 8% of the total Hackensack River watershed) includes numerous marshes, channels, wetlands, and drainage ditches that serve as habitat to hundreds of plant and animal species (USEPA et al., 2005). Widely recognized as one of the keys to the sustained ecological viability of the Meadowlands, Berry’s Creek and its associated canals also hold the distinction of being one of the most contaminated waterways in northeastern U.S (USEPA, 2008a). In 1929 the F.W. Berk Company (later known as the Wood-Ridge Chemical Company) opened its doors as a mercury reclamation and recovery center. This facility would process spent or off-spec fungicides, pesticides, batteries, thermometers, dental amalgams, and other mercury containing wastes and remove or recover the mercury for re-sale or reformulation into new products (USEPA, 2006). By 1974, when operations at its 40-acre site ceased, the plant had changed owners and names several times and had discharged an estimated 270 tons of mercury into a 2,000 foot long stretch of Berry’s Creek. At its peak operation, between two to four pounds of mercury were being released into Berry’s Creek every day (NJDEP, 1992). USEPA recently has completed its Framework Document for Berry’s Creek (USEPA et al., 2005), which attempts to establish the guidelines for the characterization and investigation of the mercury and other heavy metal contamination present in Berry’s Creek sediments. Critical to the success and effectiveness of these upcoming characterization activities is an understanding of not only how the contaminants were released but also the most probable (and implementable) remedial alternatives available for the waterway. Our presentation provides both a historical perspective on the discharges into Berry’s Creek and establishes an ecological construct in which to consider and carryout future cleanup actions.
Wright, Victoria and Blauvelt, Robert P.
"Berry’s Creek: A Glance Backward And A Look Forward,"
Proceedings of the Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy:
Vol. 14, Article 11.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/soilsproceedings/vol14/iss1/11