Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Potential Soil & Water Contamination in Blairstown

Blairstown officials and residents will have to wait until August 15 for the full report of the 26 test pits dug at 50 Mt. Vernon Road announced Mike Suk, a neighbor to the property under investigation, at a township committee meeting on July 20.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) now estimates more than 500 dump trucks of solid waste and contaminated fill were delivered to the Blairstown property in early 2020.

This is the second round of testing on this soil. Brockerhoff Environmental Services, the property’s original LSRP, found mercury, aluminum, manganese, chlordane and benzine compounds in the first foot of soil. Brockerhoff has since been replaced by Peak Environmental.

Suk informed the Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) of the little information he was able to obtain from a DEP representative through their regular correspondence.

“So far four of the test pits tested positive for contaminated soil at the virgin level, so at the bottom of those pits… It is seeping,” Suk said.

Suk explained that the DEP remediation plan calls for an extensive removal of all solid waste, digging to virgin ground with no contaminates. But in the meantime, he’s still worried.

“The DEP found almost half of private wells tested by New Jersey officials over the past few years contain toxic ‘forever chemicals’ over the New Jersey health standards.

“Forever chemicals” otherwise known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that take the form of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are chemicals that do not break down over time— earning their name.

PFAS are used to resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water and can be found in clothing, furniture, adhesives, non-stick cook products and the insulation of electrical wire. In New Jersey, there are rigid standards regarding levels of PFAS in drinking water.

Exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause kidney or testicular cancer, high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, hormone suppression and even high cholesterol.

These toxic chemicals have been found at several locations in Warren County. In Washington Township 21 of the 57 private wells tested were contaminated by PFAS. Both the Ridge and Valley Charter School and Harmony Township Elementary School found PFOS in its drinking water.

Rockaway Township in Morris County found that 77 percent of the tested private wells contain PFAS above the exceedance standard. PFAS were found in two school systems drinking water and 42 private wells in Mercer County, early this year.

The NJ Department of Health recommends testing your private well for PFAS if there is known or suspected well water contamination in your area.

So far, no PFAS have been found in the soil dumped at 50 Mt. Vernon road, but to Suk, the mere possibility is “why the testing of that aquifer throughout this process is so important.”

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