To the Editor:
Environmental investigations of Princeton’s former hospital site have been the subject of Planning Board Hearings on AvalonBay’s application to redevelop the site, and they have been widely reported on in the press.
As an environmental attorney, who has worked for both the US EPA and industry, the facts reported by the applicant in their Limited Phase II and in the independent report by Sovereign Consulting, commissioned by the Planning Board, raises more questions than having provided answers. Further investigation is clearly warranted.
For example, the applicant’s data in the Limited Phase II performed by AvalonBay’s consultant EcolSciences definitively shows that the groundwater results exceed NJ groundwater quality standards for four different carcinogens and by as much as four times the New Jersey standard. The applicant states that the exceedances may be due to turbidity in the samples. Yet the applicant did not analyze the soil for these same compounds. Reportedly the monitoring well revealed no exceedances of these compounds. But the applicant did not provide the data to confirm this point. It is unknown when the samples were taken, method of analysis, the screening level of the monitoring well, nor proximity of values to exceedances level. What we do know is that these carcinogens are present (in either the soil or groundwater), and therefore the nature and extent of the contamination must be investigated.
Furthermore, hospitals use hazardous materials such as mercury. Why then did the applicant not sample groundwater for metals such as mercury? Additional questions left unanswered include: the location and potential contamination (soil and groundwater) from use of a former septic system; and the extent and quantity of hazardous materials used on site and disposed of via the septic system (solvents, lab wastes, radioactive source materials).
The applicant and Sovereign conclude that no further investigation is needed. I respectfully disagree. I would not accept these conclusions in my practice, and neither should the Board.
Chemicals noted in groundwater wells above NJ groundwater quality levels:Chemical Well Level found NJ GWQ level Exceeds NJ GWQS Benzo(a)anthracene CAS # 56-55-3 GW2 Probable Human Carcinogen .308 ug/l .1 ug/l 3 times Benzo(a)pyrene CAS # 50-32-8 GW2 Probable Human Carcinogen .388 ug/l .1 ug/l @ 4 times Benzo(b)fluoranthene CAS # 205-99-2 GW2 Possible Human Carcinogen .380 ug/l .2 ug/l @ 2 times Indeno(1,2,3-cd) pyrene CAS # 193-39-5 GW2 Probable Human Carcinogen .320 ug/l .2 ug/l @1.5 times Benzo(a)anthracene CAS # 56-55-3 GW1 Probable Human Carcinogen .229 ug/l .1 ug/l @ 2 times Benzo(b)fluoranthene CAS # 205-99-2 GW1 Possible Human Carcinogen .190 ug/l .2 ug/l Just about