MONTVILLE, NJ - When driving on Taylortown Road, you may have noticed the pipes sticking out of the ground near the Montville Museum, and wondered what it’s for.

Twelve Taylortown Road is the site of the former Capstick factories, and remediation of contaminated soil, groundwater testing, and “sparging” are being performed there by Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, for current owner Unilever/Best Foods.


Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The site’s history dates back to the 1880s when John Capstick began two mills on the property:  the Montville Finishing Company and the Globe and Columbia Print Works, across the street from each other.

Globe and Columbia was destroyed by fire in 1914 and was never rebuilt.  Textile manufacturing continued at Montville Finishing Company until 1945, when it was sold to the Penick Corporation.  From 1945 to 1978, Penick manufactured pharmaceuticals at the Montville Finishing plant, and later, products manufactured at other Penick sites were stored there.

In 1978, Penick ceased manufacturing at the site, and in 1983 the site was purchased by Brodson Properties, a subsidiary of Unilever/Best Foods.  In 1985, all buildings were razed and the only activities on the property have been environmental remedial activities.

Penick declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1994 and was acquired in 2005 by Siegfried USA.  All manufacturing operations were relocated to Pennsville, New Jersey.

Attempts to Alleviate

The 27-acre property has had several phases of soil removal and replacement, plus “sparging,” which is “injecting air at pressures high enough to strip volatile compounds from below ground,” stated Langan Vice President Steve Ciambruschini. 

Approximately 8,000 square feet of the property have been deemed a wetlands transition area by the Department of Environmental Protection.  Two brooks delineate the eastern portion of the property.

The property, which utilized a “buried drum area,” a lagoon, and 4,000-gallon underwater steel wastewater settling tank, has experienced “leaks and spills in several areas, which contaminated the soil and groundwater at the site,” according to 2005 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records.  “The soils are contaminated with volatile organics, pesticides, metals, and semi-volatile organics.  Groundwater is contaminated with benzene, toluene, phenol, and chromium.”

Several phases of remediation have occurred since 1974, when 139 drums were removed.  In 1992, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection issued an Administrative Consent Order for the site and phases were conducted in 1992, 1993, and 1995.  In 1998, the NJ DEP requested the site be changed from “medium” to “high priority” because groundwater contaminant concentrations exceeded NJ criteria and showed increasing trends, some of the properties adjacent to the site have potable wells, and “contaminant seeps along the banks of Crooked Brook may be impacting the ecological environment.”

Further complicating the matter, the lagoon, which was closed and filled in sometime between 1967 and 1970, was filled with soil contaminated with benzene and hexavalent chromium.  In 2002, “biosparging” was installed to address the presence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds), including benzene, PCE, phenol, arsenic, and chromium.  In “biosparging,” air and nutrients (if needed) are injected at lower pressure into the saturated zone to increase the biological activity of the indigenous microorganisms, according to U.S. EPA documents.

Testing conducted from 1992 to 2006 indicated elevation concentrations of metals in the soil, exceeding Cleanup Criteria from the DEP, including antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium, and zinc, according to Langan documents.

Groundwater testing conducted in 2005 indicated no organic compounds, but iron and manganese were found which exceeded GWQS (groundwater quality standards), but these were attributed to “regional groundwater quality,” according to Langan documents.

Remediation Phases

Remediation efforts at the site have included the following:

  1. In 1980, 111 drums were removed, plus 200 tons of contaminated soil.
  2. In 1994, several rusted drum carcasses were removed.  The 4,000-gallon settling tank was removed, along with 180 tons of contaminated soil.  Asbestos was removed from the north basement of the former manufacturing building, soil was removed and clean fill was placed.  However, post-excavation sampling results indicated that “metals remain in the soil in excess of NJ NRDCSCC (non-residential direct contact soil cleanup criteria),”  and a 2004 test of the groundwater indicated VOCs, catechol, t-butyl alcohol, and arsenic at levels above NJ GWQC (groundwater quality criteria), according to EPA records.
  3. In 1998, 4,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil were replaced.
  4. “Historical fill”:  according to EPA records, “Historical fill material overlies approximately ten acres of the eastern portion of the site.  Metals and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons appear to be the primary concern, detected throughout the fill material.”
  5. In 2010, soil was excavated and replaced on the site, and wetlands on the site impacted by the activities were restored, according to Langan documents filed with the Township.
  6. Between December 2013 and July 2014, “the soil impacted by the plant’s operations was excavated,” according to Langan documents.  The lead-hazardous soil was approximately 611 tons and was disposed of in Ohio.  Remnant foundation walls were removed and decontaminated.  The soil was transported off-site, and the excavations were backfilled with certified clean fill.  Topsoil was placed and the wetlands were restored.  “The site will continue to be monitored for the success of the wetland restoration project.  If the wetland areas fail to meet the established success criteria by the end of the monitoring period, a proposal to ensure the success of the project will be prepared and submitted to the NJDEP for approval,” state the documents.

“The post-excavation results from the samples collected in September of 2011 revealed that the proposed excavation areas needed to be expanded from the original excavation extents to meet the remediation standards,” according to Langan.

Recent History

Langan Engineering and Environmental Services has been handling the site for Unilever since 1992.

The current phase, begun in the fall of 2014, includes completion of an air sparging and soil vapor extraction system in the former lagoon area of the site. Wells have already been completed and the remaining scope will include installation of conveyance piping, a shed for equipment operation, and regrading of the treatment area.

The system, which is designed to treat impacted soil and groundwater in the former lagoon area, consists of

  • Nested air sparging wells for the injection of air into groundwater under pressure
  • Vapor capture wells for the collection of resultant off-gases
  • Chimney wells to relieve any potential pressure buildup in the subsurface
  • Vent wells to provide dilution air to the subsurface and prevent vacuum jamming
  • Monitoring wells to check the groundwater in the area
  • Monitoring the wells to evaluate the remediation effectiveness

The “conveyance piping” is designed to bring vapor from the wells to the equipment shed.  First, air is piped in from blowers to the subsurface.  Then the vapors are extracted from the vapor extraction wells via vacuum pumps and sent to the equipment shed for treatment via carbon vessels, according to Ciambruschini.

Eventually, fill soil will be imported to the site, a detention basin constructed, a cap installed, top soil imported, and then the site will be planted with wild seed.  According to Montville Township documents, “the intention is to eventually fill the proposed detention basin,once the NJ DEP concludes that the remediation process is complete.”  However, several phases remain in the project in the interim.  “Contamination associated with fill [used in the past] will be addressed as part of a site-wide remedial action to be proposed under separate cover,” according to the Langan documents.

Soil erosion prevention and storm water runoff containment measures will be undertaken during all construction phases, in accordance with soil management and sediment control plans approved by the county. 


The next step in the process is the startup of the system and continued operation, maintenance, and monitoring, stated Ciambruschini.  Monitoring the effectiveness of the wells will include collection and analysis of groundwater samples in the treatment area.  Twice a year, the groundwater will be sampled in order to confirm that the extent of impacted groundwater remains contained onsite.  The sampling will continue until NJ DEP-approved cleanup objectives are met, according to Ciambruschini. According to the Montville Township Planning Board’s resolution, this could take five to ten years.

“This operation takes time. The cleanup isn’t done in a week, it’s done over a year or years.  I believe a site has to have three successive quarters of ‘clean records’ to make sure the water is at a ‘sustained clean’ result,” stated Stanley Omland, Montville Township’s Planning Board Engineer.


Cost for this phase of the remediation will be approximately $850,000.  “Unilever has paid for all investigation and remediation to date and has provided funding for future remediation,” stated Ciambruschini.