Thursday, July 2, 2009

Renovation Update: Lead found in Hamilton Park

Hello Everyone,
For those of you who missed yesterday’s HPNA meeting I wanted to bring everyone up-to-date on a development in the Hamilton Park renovation:
In the next day or so Green Construction, the general contractor for the renovation, will erect NJ Department of Environmental Protection mandated environmental testing/cleanup signs around the park. The reason for this is that GC, while testing the soil being removed to accommodate the underground features of the park (water, electrical, etc.), discovered lead contamination in the soil about 20 feet from the gazebo. The Division of Architecture suspects the origin of the lead is either the base material used under concrete in the 1920's (today gravel is used, in the 20's it was cinders left over from steam powered electrical plants) or an old water pipe that ran through the area. Fortunately, the area where the lead was discovered was under the asphalt that surrounded the gazebo so no one was exposed to it.

A preliminary soil report prepared for the Division of Architecture will made available to our group, the Mayor’s office and Councilman Steve Fulop in the next couple of days. Additionally, the Division of Architecture will meet with us next week to go over everything in depth. As mandated by law, the City has notified the NJ DEP and has begun comprehensive testing of the entire park (they are sampling soil in 60+ locations) in order to discover the full extent of contamination within the park. That report should be available in the next 30 days. Soil sampling & testing should not interfere with current construction efforts; however, they will need to remediate whatever contaminants are discovered. The City has proactively committed to cleaning up (rather than capping contamination) as this is a public park. Depending on the full testing results, said cleanup may cause delays or require moving one or more of the retention basins (which could endanger some additional trees in the park). Hopefully this will not be the case.

I’ll update the group as more details emerge. In the meanwhile, I’ve attached the Division of Architecture’s email to the Mayor’s office, Councilman Fulop, and myself. I would like to thank both Glenn Wrigley and Brian Weller in the Division of Architecture. They have done a great job staying contact with us regarding this issue and the park renovation overall.


Begin forwarded message:
From: "Glenn Wrigley"
Date: June 29, 2009 11:06:36 AM EDT
To: "Brian O'Reilly"
Cc: "Olu Howard" ,"Steve Fulop" , "Brian Weller"

I want to keep you informed of a situation that has occurred in Hamilton Park late last week. Green CONSTRUCTION, as part of their contractual obligations, did have areas where soil is being excavated tested for contaminants (per NJDEP requirements before soil can be transported off of any site to an accepting landfill). The reason for excavation at all is to install these new underground drainage structures required by the NJMUA. All test results came back with very low or non-existent contamination levels except for one, which is an area about 20 feet West of the gazebo. This one sample came back with a level for lead which is above DEP acceptable residential standards.

We met with the testing company and we are attempting to delineate just how much of an area may be contaminated with this high level of lead. One suspect reason may be the bedding or base material under old concrete walkways, which are described as cinders. It was common back around the turn of the century and up to the 1930's for cinders from power generating plants to be used as a base course for concrete. It is possible that these chips are the source of the lead levels. Much of the old walkways were removed in the 1970's renovation of the park, but some of the chips probably remained in this spot and were covered over with soil. This new renovation proposes to put this old walkway path back, albeit wider (11 to 12 feet) than the old pathways (about 4 feet).

Since tests were performed, and this level has been detected, the NJDEP must be notified. Such notification naturally makes this a public record. In order to assure the public that the extent of this contamination is found and remediated, NJDEP protocol is for additional testing at a rate of 4 samples per acre (or about 24 samples for this 6.0 acre park). These additional tests will take about 2 to 3 weeks to obtain and analyze. Meanwhile, other construction will continue without delay.

Once notification is given to the NJDEP, this project will be assigned a case number. A hotline number to the DEP is also established so that residents have current information on the investigation. There will be some signs posted around the park (A DEP requirement), letting the public know that an investigation is taking place. The hotline number will be clearly listed on these posters. Full transparent disclosure is the objective here. All test results will be sent to the DEP for review, and a Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) will be sent to the DEP for their review and approval. Hopefully, this problem will be limited to the one uncovered location.

I will be happy to meet with you, the Mayor's office, Councilman Fulop, and some HPNA representatives if anyone wishes.