Thursday, September 29, 2022

Soil Contamination Issues Persist in Blairstown

In early 2020, over 200 tandem dump trucks arrived at 50 Mt. Vernon Road carrying loads of dirty fill to be left on the residential property. 

Blairstown Tax Map / Photo by A. Tironi, June 2022

Containing pieces of glass, asphalt, seashells and solid waste, the dumped material was originally tested in 2021 by LSRP Brockerhoff Environmental Services. 

The 2021 report found mercury, chlordane and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon contaminants above Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) standards in its sample collections. Due to these contaminants, Brockerhoff classified the dumping as a hazardous waste spill

Since those original testings, another LSRP has been assigned to the property. Peak Environmental visited the site early this year to collect additional fill samples from 26 test pits that were dug deeper and ranged over a larger portion of the property. 

Mike Suk, 50 Mt. Vernon neighbor and homeowner, came before the Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) to provide updates on these soil contamination issues at a meeting on June 8.  

Suk informed the BTC that contamination results from the 26 test pits, most recently inspected, are in and he is currently waiting on the finished report.

According to Suk and his communications with Brockerhoff, the original LSRP planned to remove all contaminated soil and test the aquifer— if affected it could contaminate all wells in the surrounding area. 

However, under the supervision of Peak Environmental, an aquifer contamination test may not be recommended. It is routine for LSRP’s to create specific Mitigration to Ground Water standards depending on site conditions, that may not be skewed by DEP standards. 

At the BTC meeting, Suk read an excerpt from an email sent to him by the DEP.

“While [the DEP] cannot predict an LSRP’s actions, for your planning purposes you should be aware that it is common for an LSRP not to recommend aquifer testing if residual soil contaminants do not exceed site specific Migration to Ground Water remediation standards.”

Suk told the BTC there’s no guarantee these contaminants haven’t reached water sources. “I don’t want to come back here 20 years from now and find that people in our township came down with some type of cancer or ailment due to us not doing our jobs. 

Suk stated that he and other concerned Blairstown residents are “dead set on having every bit of that soil removed from that property.” 

The Blairstown Land Use Board’s Soil and Fill Ordinance states, “unregulated and uncontrolled placement and movement of soil and other mineral deposits can result in conditions detrimental to the public safety, health and general welfare.” 

All soil movement and filling operations must be approved by the Township Zoning Officer or Township Engineer. With this in mind, Suk requested the township engineer and environmental engineer assist in overseeing Peak Environmental’s report and its remediation plan. 

Mayor Robert Moorhead assured Suk, “that report will be looked over carefully.”

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