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Superfund Program Implements the Recovery Act

Welsbach/General Gas Mantle Co.

Camden/Gloucester, New Jersey

Site Description
The Welsbach Company and the General Gas Mantle Company were involved in the production of gas mantles from the late 1890s to 1941.  In the production process, the manufacturers used  thorium to make the mantles glow brighter.  In addition to thorium, the waste materials used in the mantle manufacturing process contained another radioactive element, radium.  Both thorium and radium give off gamma radiation and radon gas as part of the radioactive decay process.  It is believed that waste materials from both Welsbach and General Gas Mantle were used as fill materials in the Camden and Gloucester area.   Besides the two gas mantle facilities, four nearby residential areas exhibit elevated levels of gamma radiation.

Cleanup Actions to Date
Since adding the site to the National Priorities List in 1996, EPA’s response actions have included two removal actions to address elevated gamma radiation levels from residential properties and a public park.  EPA also has demolished the radiologically contaminated General Gas Mantle building in Camden and has excavated and disposed of approximately 122,000 cubic yards of radiologically contaminated soils from residential propertiesIn addition, EPA’s excavation and disposal activities have included addressing nearly 18,000 cubic yards of soil on the future site of a Gloucester City middle school.

Recovery Act Project Activity
EPA will use the $22 million in Recovery Act funds to clean up the radiologically contaminated soils around the former General Gas Mantle facility in Camden, a designated Brownfields Showcase Community. The site received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding in fiscal year 2009 for both Remedial Design and Remedial Action activities. The EPA believes the cleanup of the General Gas Mantle property will serve as a catalyst for redevelopment of the area. EPA and the State have reduced the immediate risks at the Site from gamma radiation by installing shielding on some of the site properties, removing elevated surface contamination from several residential properties and a public park, and demolishing the former General Gas Mantle building in Camden. To address long term exposure risks, EPA has completed the cleanup of the radiological contamination on over 100 properties in residential areas in Camden and Gloucester City.

FY2011 highlights include:

  • Recovery Act funds were 100% expended on the construction project. The project continues using other appropriated funds.

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