Consultant Says No Evidence of Contamination at Former Hospital Site

The Princeton Regional Planning Board is in the midst of multiple hearings on the AvalonBay development project. The next hearing is Monday at 7:30 p.m.


An independent consultant hired by Princeton officials says records show no evidence of soil or groundwater contamination and no reason for concern over underground storage tanks at the former hospital site.

David J. Volz, a licensed site remediation specialist with Sovereign Consulting in Cherry Hill, outlined his conclusions to Princeton Township Engineer Bob Kiser in a letter dated Dec. 5.

Volz was hired to review documents from both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township review environmental conditions at the Witherspoon Street location. The Princeton Regional Planning Board will consider the report as it reviews a pending application by AvalonBay, which hopes to build 280 residential units on the site.

Avalon Bay is currently in the midst of multiple meetings- three in one week- before the planning board.

Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Development, the group that opposes AvalonBay’s development, has also raised concerns about environmental hazards at the site. Tonight, Monday, the planning board is expected to focus on environmental issues.

Volz’s review examined records of underground storage tanks, a possible septic system underneath the parking garage, hazardous materials on the property and asbestos in the building.

Of the underground storage tanks that have already been removed, only one still has an open NJ DEP case relating to soil contamination: a 550 gallon oil tank at 6 Harris Rd.

“To alleviate any concerns regarding the potential for adverse environmental or health effects, the applicant should provide the Board with an update on the status or remediation of soil and or groundwater at the 6 Harris Rd. property,” Volz wrote.

The remaining tanks on the property should be removed during redevelopment and closed in accordance with DEP procedures, he said.

The semi-volatile organic compounds detected in low concentrations (but above NJDEP ground water quality standards) near underground storage tanks is typical and not cause for concern, Volz said.

He recommends AvalonBay show the location of existing storage tanks and piping on its demolition plans.

Volz believes the septic system was likely removed during construction of the parking garage. If not, it’s been dormant so long that contaminants would no longer be present. Still, if a septic system should be discovered during redevelopment, it should be assessed in accordance with NJDEP guidance.

That there may be potential hazardous materials and asbestos at the site does not preclude redevelopment, so long as experienced professionals conduct removal in accordance with local and state regulations.

“What better way to address this issue than to simply remove the materials that cause PCSN and EELC concern,” wrote Volz. 

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