Site Descriptions

Blue Hole, Hammonton, NJ

A flooded mining quarry in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, known locally as a “blue hole”. Many blue holes are the result of late 18th century industry; their striking blue color is the result of high sulphur content.

Today these bodies of water are mostly abandoned, and many have become popular swim holes even though their bottoms are still lined with dangerous industrial waste.

A more thorough write-up on the history of blue holes can be found here on my blog.

Clearview Landfill, Philadelphia, PA / Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site

The area around the Clearview Landfill in Philadelphia was selected in the 1950s for a large urban renewal project. Construction was halted in the 1970s with only 30% of the planned houses having been built. The residents who bought these homes were unaware of the site's former use and many became sick in the following decades.  

The Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site currently encompasses this area, which is located in the Clearview and Eastwick neighborhoods of Philadelphia. More can be read on my blog.

Gloucester City, NJ / Welsbach and General Gas Mantle Superfund Site

Gas mantles, mesh bags embedded with chemicals or elements, were widely used in streetlights and indoor lighting during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When placed over the flame of a lantern or gas lighting fixture they glowed, providing a brighter light than a bare flame could provide. The Welsbach Company and the General Gas Mantle Company were two area manufacturers of gas mantles. 

The glowing element used by both for their mantles was the radioactive element thorium. Production waste  included thorium and radium, another radioactive element. While the factories were still operating, some of this waste was used as fill during the construction of homes, businesses, and recreational parks throughout Gloucester City and Camden, New Jersey. 

An aerial survey identified six sites with elevated levels of radiation and the Welsbach/GGM Superfund Site was established. Much remediation has been done, including the excavation of hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated soil. Remediation related to ground water is ongoing. More can be read on my blog.

Using Format