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The CPS Chemical/Madison Industries (CPS/MI) site is located on Waterworks Road, approximately 4 miles south of the city of South Amboy, Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey. The site includes two active facilities, the CPS Chemical Company and Madison Industries, which share a common property boundary.

Off-site contamination was first discovered May 1970, when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found high levels of zinc in groundwater samples taken from Perth Amboy's municipal well field. Spills, leaks, and runoff from CPS Chemical and Madison Industries and waste management practices by both operations are possible causes of on-site and off-site contamination. VOC's and metals (Zinc, lead, and cadmium) were identified as the major contaminants in soil, surface water, sediments, and groundwater surrounding the CPS/MI facility.

The Perth Amboy public water supply wells (Supply Wells #5 and #6) have been found to contain VOCs and metals. VOCs are present in Supply Well #6, however, only chlorobenzene was detected in finished or treated water. The maximum concentration of chlorobenzene was below it's MCL of 4 ppb. Perth Amboy well #5 has been contaminated with high levels of zinc and is utilized as a backup supply.

The primary completed human exposure pathway is associated with past exposure to contaminated groundwater. However, because of treatment and blending of water it is unlikely that any residents were ever exposed to VOC's at concentrations above the NJMCL's or the ATSDR comparison values for these chemicals.

A Toxicological evaluation was conducted of an human exposure scenario of residents drinking untreated groundwater from contaminated supply wells. Potential exposure to contaminants found in the Perth Amboy municipal water supply before treatment (eg., benzene and chlorobenzene) did not indicate estimated exposure doses where adverse health outcomes would be expected.

Former and current workers at the CPS/MI site have probably been exposed to heavy metals through the ingestion of dusts and other small particles in the air and on work surfaces in and outside of the buildings and from VOC's from operations and previous spills. Future exposures of site workers to site contaminants are also possible.

An availability session was held on February 9, 1995 to discuss current community and local health issues associated with the CPS/MI site. Several community concerns such as the areas of stressed vegetation and the issue of soluble organics in the groundwater plume at the site were discussed at the meeting. These issues have been or are being addressed and no further action is necessary.

A review of the cancer incidence for the municipality of Perth Amboy (1979 through 1991) found cancer rates were not elevated, with respect to New Jersey State rates.

On the basis of the information reviewed, the ATSDR and NJDOH have concluded that the CPS Chemical/Madison Industries site poses no apparent public health hazard. The available data do not indicate that humans are being exposed or have been exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. In addition, all of the soluble organic contamination found is within the capture zone of the existing ground water recovery system. The NJDEP has abandoned plans to recharge treated groundwater into the Runyon Watershed aquifer. This eliminates the possibility that reinjected soluble organics would contaminate the municipal water supply wells.

This public health assessment has been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. The panel was concerned over exposure to workers at the Madison Industries site; therefore, this concern and PHA will be referred to the appropriate occupational agency(ies).

A public comment period for the Public Health Assessment for the CPS Chemical/Madison Industries site was conducted from May 17, 1996 to June 17, 1996. The Public Health Assessment was placed in local repositories to facilitate commentary and reaction from the public at large.


A. Site Description and History

The CPS Chemical/Madison Industries (CPS/MI) site is located on Waterworks Road, approximately 4 miles south of the city of South Amboy in an industrial area of Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey (Figure 1). The site includes two active facilities, the CPS Chemical Company and Madison Industries, which share a common property boundary.

The CPS/MI site together comprise approximately 21 acres. CPS/MI is surrounded by several industries including another Superfund site, Evor Phillips. Evor Phillips is approximately 500 feet directly north and upgradient of the site. Other industries near the site include: the Jersey Billets Division of Easco; Lionett Oil Recovery; BG&M; and Forte Pallet.

Figure 1 - Site Location
Figure 1 - Site Location

There are two large municipal well fields near the CPS/MI site, serving the towns of Sayreville and Perth Amboy, located northwest and southwest of the site, respectively. The City of Perth Amboy well field, known as the Runyon Watershed, is located directly south-southwest and down gradient of the CPS/MI site. The Perth Amboy well field supplies the water mostly for the cities of Perth Amboy and South Amboy. Part of the Perth Amboy well field includes two recharge ponds, Tennent Pond and Prickett's Pond. These ponds were specifically created to enhance groundwater recharge to the supply wells.

    CPS Chemical

The CPS Chemical Co. began operations in 1969 with the production of chemicals and the recovery of valuable materials from off-site process by-products or residuals. Since 1974, CPS has been manufacturing organic chemicals (monomers) that are used for water treatment processes. CPS has also produced water soluble organic compounds. In addition to storing these chemicals, the company also recovers solvents and other organic chemicals by distillation.

A 1980 report (Dames and Moore) attributed organic contaminants at the site to the CPS Chemical Company. They noted that in addition to poor "housekeeping" practices, a railroad tank car unloading area, two large chemical storage tanks, and fuel oil storage tanks were identified as the most probable sources of contaminant releases.

    Madison Industries

Madison Industries (formerly Food Additives) has been in operation since 1967, and manufactures inorganic chemicals (primarily zinc salts) that are used in the manufacture of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and food additives. Madison Industries has stored product which contained zinc, lead, and cadmium in outside piles on the site. The piles have recently been removed.

During the years between 1970 and 1979, Madison Industries experienced a series of nine major storage tank spills. These spills consisted of zinc sulphate and zinc chloride solutions and totaled about 80,000 gallons of material lost. Approximately half of the spills occurred before the tank area was paved in 1976.

Major spills, combined with incidental spills, drips and leaks, have contributed to contamination of the underlying aquifer.

    CPS/MI Site

Off-site contamination was first discovered May 1970, when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) found high levels of zinc in the groundwater during routine analysis of samples taken from Perth Amboy's municipal well field. At that time the well field was a series of 30 shallow wells known as the Bennet Suction Line (BSL). The levels of zinc detected increased and in March 1971 the NJDEP ordered Perth Amboy to stop pumping from BSL wells (#1-6). In 1973, the BSL wells were completely shut down.

Spills, leaks, and runoff from CPS Chemical and Madison Industries and waste management practices by both operations are possible causes of on-site and off-site contamination. A break in the sewer line from the CPS/MI facilities, was documented in 1973 by the Madison Township Sewer Authority (MTSA) and this leak may have contributed to the groundwater problem.

The CPS/MI site has been the subject of several investigations, study, and litigation for over 20 years. In 1976, volatile organic contaminants were detected in groundwater and other media. This was the first time volatile organics were detected in groundwater samples. The organic contaminants were attributed to CPS.

The Superior Court of New Jersey has ordered a number of actions during the regulatory history of the site beginning in 1979.

In 1988, the court ordered the installation of a groundwater recovery system as proposed by Wehran (consultants) on March 28, 1984; relocation of Prickett's Brook as proposed by Converse Consultants on May 27, 1983; and the treatment of recovered groundwater with effluent discharge to the local sewer authority.

The responsible parties (RP's) failed to comply with many of the provisions of the 1988 court order. The contamination plume continued to move through the Runyon Well Field and, in 1990, low concentrations of chlorobenzene were detected in Perth Amboy supply well No. 6. This was the first time volatile organic compounds (VOC's) were detected in supply well No. 6 water samples.

On January 25, 1991, groundwater pumping began downgradient of the CPS/MI site to remediate elevated levels of VOC's and metals in the Old Bridge Aquifer. Initially, four recovery wells were installed. Two wells (RW-1 and RW-2) were installed primarily to remove VOC's and the others (RW-3 and RW-4) were installed to remediate metals. A fifth recovery well (RW-5) was installed and became operational in August 1992. A sixth recovery well (RW-6) was installed in May 1993 to provide additional metals remediation. Perth Amboy Supply Wells No. 5 and No. 6 have both been impacted by contaminants from the site.

In 1994, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the City of Perth Amboy completed the construction of an air stripping facility to treat the VOC's in Perth Amboy Well # 6. The water treatment system will remove most of the zinc contamination from Well # 5. This well is periodically used, however, it usually remains on a standby status.

CPS submitted its Phase I Remedial Investigation (RI) Report on June 18, 1993 (revised January 4, 1994 and March 18, 1994). The results of CPS's Phase II RI (first draft) was submitted on December 8, 1994. Madison Industries submitted a RI on August 12,1992 and on February 1, 1994, with an April 28, 1994 addendum. Neither CPS nor Madison Industries has prepared a Feasibility Study (FS). The FS for each will be preformed when the RI's are complete and accepted by the NJDEP.

VOC's and metals (zinc, lead, cadmium and copper) were identified as the major contaminants in soil, surface water, sediments, and groundwater surrounding the CPS/MI facility.

    ATSDR Involvement

A Preliminary Health Assessment (PHA) for the CPS/MI Site was prepared for ATSDR on January 19, 1989. The PHA noted that human exposure pathways were associated with groundwater and surface water at the site. In addition, it noted the sludge piles, if not properly attended, could allow off-site migration of contaminants via erosion and atmospheric dispersion. Potential human exposure pathways to site related contaminants included: ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation (the volatile components) of groundwater. Also of concern was dermal contact and ingestion of surface water and sediments, and inhalation of particulates originating from the sludge piles on site. Contaminants of concern at the site consisted largely of volatile organic compounds and metals.

In its final conclusion, ATSDR categorized the CPS/MI site to be of potential public health concern because of the risk to human health caused by the possibility of exposure to hazardous substances via contaminated groundwater, surface water and sediment and airborne particulate, at concentrations of concern, may occur and have probably occurred in the past. ATSDR recommended that more site data be collected to fill numerous data gaps. In particular, more data was needed regarding off-site groundwater contamination.

B. Site Visit

On January 13, 1995, J. Solomon and J. Winegar of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) visited the CPS/MI site accompanied by representatives of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). In addition, NJDOH personnel were accompanied by representatives of the respective companies.

A follow up site visit focusing on off-site impacts of the site, in particular the Runyon Watershed area, took place on March 1, 1995. This visit included NJDOH personnel (J. Winegar and J. Pasqualo) along with representatives from the Middlesex County Health Department, Runyon Watershed, and the City of Perth Amboy.

The New Jersey Department of Health also conducted site visits to the CPS/MI on September 25, 1990, and April 22, 1993.

    General Comments:
  • The CPS/MI site is located in a historically industrial area. There are four residences about 1/3 mile north of the site. Further to the northeast in Old Bridge are other residential areas.
  • An area of stressed vegetation was observed off-site in areas adjoining Prickett's Brook just northwest of Madison Industries. The stressed area extended across Waterworks Road and was clearly associated with runoff from unimproved areas (not process areas) of the MI property line.
  • The Evor Phillips Superfund site appears to be a "run down" industrial area, and was located north of and across Waterworks Road.
  • Several other industries were noted to be near the site, mostly towards the north (upgradient).
    CPS Chemical
  • The site remains an active organic chemical manufacturing facility. According to the company's Vice President, they currently produce chemical flocculents for the water treatment industry. The operational areas of the plant are built on 5 acres of paved land and the administrative services including parking are occupied by another 5 acres of paved land. The remainder of the property is unpaved, and apparently not in use.
  • Directly north and upgradient of the site is the Evor Phillips Superfund site. The CPS property shares a common boundary with the Madison Industries plant.
  • Security in the plant area, which includes the production area, chemical storage areas, and an office area appears to be very good. This included partial perimeter fencing which would make access to trespassers difficult. The rear of the property is not fenced and is defined physically by Prickett's Brook. During dry periods of the year, the brook would not present a physical barrier to trespasser entry.
  • There was visible dust seen drifting to CPS Chemical from the Madison Industries site. In addition, there was a strong smell of ammonia coming from Madison Industries.
  • Organic Chemical odors were detected on-site, at various locations in the chemical production areas.
    Madison Industries
  • The site remains an active chemical manufacturing facility. According to a company representative, Madison Industries manufactures several inorganic compounds using zinc and copper. The 10 acre operational facility is paved and fenced. There were no warning, trespassing, or other hazard signs present on the site perimeter. The site provides 24-hour security which includes a security guard at the site.
  • The area around the operational area appears to be completely paved and bermed to prevent surface water from leaving the site. In particular, it did not appear that surface water could reach Prickett's Brook. Prickett's Brook flows through the site.
  • Much of paved area was covered with a grey paste (up to 1/2" deep). This material was purported to be a mixture of zinc dust and water.
  • A strong smell of ammonia was noted. The ammonia is used as part of the ion exchange process during the manufacturing process for copper sulfate.
  • Piles of micronutrient fertilizer and metal sludge were present over the site. There was a very large pile of this material (classified by NJDEP as a hazardous waste) located on the western side of the plant. The pile was largely covered with canvas and plastic tarpaulins.
  • A few puddles of blue water (possibly a copper compound) were observed near the large waste pile.
  • The rear of the property was being utilized as holding area for structural wastes, materials and broken equipment.
  • Production chemicals and apparatus were ubiquitous and accessible throughout the site. On-site chemical odors were present. Additionally, there was a high level of ambient noise at this facility.
    Runyon Watershed

The following observations were made during the 3/1/95 visit by NJDOH personnel to the Runyon Watershed with representatives from the Middlesex County Health Department, Runyon Watershed, and the City of Perth Amboy:

  • The area along the northern side the watershed was fenced, posted, and access was restricted by locked gates. The area is not completely secure and trespassing may be occurring, as there was evidence of hunting.
  • With the exception of algae, there were no visible signs of terrestrial or aquatic life associated with Prickett's Pond or Prickett's Brook. At the point where the Prickett's Brook passes under the fence from Madison Industries (MI) to the water shed it was noted that there was a breach in the plastic sediment fence.
  • The large pile of fertilizer/hazardous waste was uncovered in two locations where the tarpaulins had been blown by the wind.
  • The area of stressed vegetation adjoining Prickett's Brook just northwest of MI lies mostly on the watershed. The stressed area appears to receive runoff water from unimproved areas (not process areas) of the MI property line.
  • A second, smaller, area of stressed vegetation was noted in the water shed near the southern corner of MI. As with the larger stressed area there was evidence of recent water runoff (e.g. , rain channels) from MI onto the watershed.
  • Some blue-green ground staining was observed on MI property (southern boarder) near a large dismantled rotary kiln. Water puddles on the watershed side of the fence had a bluish film on them, indicating possible water runoff from MI.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use


According to 1990 United States Census data, approximately 672,000 people live in Middlesex County. The County Planning Board estimates that the population will increase to about 757,000 by the year 2000. About 56,483 people reside in Old Bridge Township.

At least 40 residences are located within a one mile radius of the CPS/MI site. Several hundred homes and multi-dwelling buildings are located within two miles of the site. There are no residences within 1000 feet of the CPS/MI site.

The major population centers close to the CPS/MI site are the East Spotswood/South Old Bridge sections of Old Bridge Township (population 51,000), and East Brunswick (population 37,700), which are approximately 3 miles to the southwest. In addition, South River (population 14,300), is located approximately 2 miles to the west; and Sayreville (population 32,300) is located approximately 2 miles to the northwest.

    Land Use

The CPS/MI site is a relatively remote area where the land is primarily used for commercial and industrial purposes, although several residences and undeveloped lots are found near the site. The nearest homes are about 1000 feet upgradient from the site. Except for the possibility of private gardens, land near the site is not used for agriculture.

    Natural Resources Use

Groundwater resources consist primarily of the Old Bridge Sand aquifer. In addition, the Woodbridge clay and Farrington aquifer underlie the site. The Old Bridge Aquifer is characterized at this location by high to very high permeability and transmissivity. Available data indicate that groundwater flow is in a southwesterly direction. The South Amboy Fire Clay layer is thin and discontinuous beneath the northern portion of the site and does not serve as an effective aquatard or basal confining layer.

The City of Perth Amboy and Sayreville have their public water supply well fields close to this site. These consist of supply wells and groundwater recharge ponds which are located less than 1 mile from the site. The majority of Perth Amboy's potable water is drawn from the Old Bridge Sand aquifer near the southern end of Tennent Pond. Sayreville pumps water from the South River to two recharge ponds (northwest of the site) and infiltration wells.

Local surface-water drains to the southwest across the study area: Prickett's Brook flows around the perimeter of the CPS Chemical Co. plant and through the Madison Industries facility into Prickett's Pond. Prickett's Pond drains into Tennent Brook, which in turn, serves as a recharge basin for Tennent's Pond. Tennent's Brook then flows northwest, joins the South River, and empties into the Raritan River ultimately emptying into the Raritan Bay. Prickett's Brook acts as an eroding stream transporting and depositing suspended material into Prickett's Pond.

Potable water to the Borough of Sayreville is supplied by the Sayreville Water Company which maintains wells, recharge lagoons and pump mains less than 1/2 mile of the site. The water company wells range from 69 to 98 feet in depth and draw water from the Old Bridge formation servicing approximately 8,500 people.

D. Health Outcome Data

There are multiple sources of health outcome data in New Jersey. State and local data for heath outcome information include the New Jersey State Cancer Registry, Birth Defects Registry, Vital Statistics Records, Renal Dialysis Network, and Hospital Discharge Reports. Federal databases such as those maintained by the agencies within the US Department of Health and Human Services (i.e., National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and ATSDR) are not site-specific, but may be used for comparison or evaluation purposes.

Cancer might be possible from long-term exposure to one of several of the site contaminants. Please refer to the Toxicological Implications subsection of the Public Health Implications section for more information on cancer.


Much of the community health concerns have centered around groundwater and surface water contamination and the extended legal controversy concerning site remediation. The Perth Amboy public water supply has been contaminated and there has been a high level of community interest in this particular issue. The Department of Municipal Utilities has expressed concern regarding the increasing concentrations of zinc (since May 1989) at Prickett's Brook - Runyon Water Treatment Plant, (Written Communication to NJDEP).

In addition to the above, the citizens complained of acid fumes (1974) and bad odors (1976). In 1979, citizens also reported an incident of crop and car paint damage. A follow-up investigation revealed an accidental discharge from CPS Chemical of a mixture of methanol and water and smaller amounts of dimethyl adipate. CPS Chemical agreed to pay for the damages.

The residents of Old Bridge Township, through their Environmental Commission, have interacted and communicated with NJDEP on a continual basis. Their awareness of the problem and involvement in the effort to secure cleanup of the CPS/MI site predates the designation of the site as a Superfund project. Divergence of interest came as the NJDEP considered the advantages of the alternate cleanup plan proposed by CPS/MI. In June of 1984, the Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed, and included members from Perth Amboy, Sayreville, and Old Bridge. The CAC rejected the "DEP and industry's co-authored agreement" for remediation. In 1985, the City of Perth Amboy refused to sign the consent agreement, and the case was then decided in court. In addition, the Township of Old Bridge applied to USEPA for a Technical Assistance Grant to provide for "legal and technical expertise to review technical data generated by two plans for the cleanup of the CPS/MI site".

An availability session was held by the NJDOH/ATSDR on February 9, 1995 to discuss current community and local health issues associated with the CPS/MI site. The meeting was attended by representatives of the responsible parties, local officials, NJDEP, USEPA, and other interested parties. Important issues discussed at that meeting include:

(1) The removal of the large hazardous waste piles on the northwestern side of the Madison Industries property.
(2) The apparent continued release of zinc into the surface water of Prickett's Brook from the site.
(3) The area of obviously stressed vegetation northwest of Madison Industries.
(4) Concern over the issue of soluble organics potentially found in the groundwater plume at the site. In addition, concern was raised over the proposed reinjection of treated water into the Runyon Watershed. The concern involves the possibility that soluble organics, which are not treatable by air stripping, would be introduced into the aquifer closer to the supply wells.

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