maywood chemical co.


The Maywood Chemical Company site consists of three connected areas: the Stepan property, the Sears and adjacent commercial properties and the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) owned by the federal government. The site also includes certain vicinity residential and commercial properties. It is located in a highly developed commercial and residential area that includes portions of the Borough of Maywood, Lodi, and Rochelle Park. From 1916 through 1955, the Maywood Chemical Company processed radioactive thorium ore. The residues or tailings from the process operation, clay-like dirt, contained significant quantities of low-level radioactive materials. In addition, other processing operations generated various types of waste products (such as lanthanum, lithium compounds, detergents, alkaloids, essential oils, and products from tea and cocoa leaves). Maywood Chemical pumped process wastes to diked areas west of the plant. In 1932, State Route 17 was built through the disposal area. Process wastes subsequently migrated onto adjacent properties in Rochelle Park. Some of the waste materials were excavated and used as fill dirt and mulch for nearby properties in Maywood and Lodi. Waste materials were also transported via the old Lodi Brook stream channel (later replaced by a storm water drainage system). The result was chemical and radioactive contamination over much of the local area. The Maywood Chemical Works (a/k/a Maywood Chemical Company) was bought by the Stepan Chemical Company (later, the Stepan Company) in 1959. The Stepan Company is currently the owner/operator of a portion of the original Maywood Chemical Works property. Many of Maywood Chemical's operations were discontinued in the 1960s. The Stepan Company currently focuses on the production of specialty chemicals. Between 1963 and 1968, the Stepan Company undertook several on-site remedial actions. Contaminated material from west of Route 17 and on-site building rubble and debris were buried on the site (with the knowledge of the Atomic Energy Commission - predecessor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy). Subsequent to these actions, areas adjacent to Stepan were thought to be clean. However, in 1980, radiological contamination was accidentally discovered by an area resident on property formerly owned by the Stepan Chemical Company. From 1980 to 1983, radiological testing by the State, EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) revealed extensive low-level contamination on several locations. These studies were the basis for the site being added to the National Priorities List in 1983. In 1986, in conjunction with DOE's radiological characterization of the Sears and adjacent properties, EPA performed a preliminary study of chemical, non-radioactive pollutants. EPA's study indicated the presence of elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), metals, pesticides and other hazardous substances. In late 1987 through the spring of 1988, still in conjunction with DOE's studies and investigations, EPA collected split samples of soil and groundwater on the Stepan Company property. The data indicated the presence of radiological contaminants in the soil and non-radiological contaminants in the soil and groundwater. The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 1998 (PL 105-62) provided appropriations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to administer and execute DOE’s "Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program" (FUSRAP). The purpose of the FUSRAP program was to clean up contaminated sites where work was performed as part of the Nation’s early atomic energy program. Because environmental concerns at the Maywood site were similar to those of FUSRAP sites, DOE assigned the Maywood site to FUSRAP. Responsibility for cleanup of the Maywood site subsequently transferred from DOE to the Corps in October 1997. Site Responsibility: This site is being addressed through Federal (Corps of Engineers) and potentially responsible party (Stepan Company) actions, with EPA oversight.

Hazardous Ranking Score

51 / 100

A score of 28.5 or higher qualifies a site for the Superfund National Priority List.

Regional Contact

Region 2
Phone: (877) 251-4575

Contact Region



Site Inspection
Preliminary Assessment
Final Listing On NPL

Contaminants & Health Effects

      Endocrine Disrupter
      Reproductive Toxin
      Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


        African American
        American Indian and Alaska Native
        Native Hawaiian


        People living
        within a 1 mile radius


        Average Income


        Occupied homes

        Potentially Responsible Parties

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