Re: environmental risks (fwd)
31 Oct 1997 10:06:27

From: Robert Kravitz <>

Some thoughts on the forwarded message:

:) ----------
:)Subject: environmental risks
:)Date: Monday, October 27, 1997 2:20AM
:)Dear Colleagues,
:)My children's school plans to purchase land that had previously been
:)used for industry. This land had been known to be contaminated with
:)pollutants. The school got a quote from a waste management company that
:)says it could clean up the contamination.
:)MY QUESTIONS, if you can help:
:)1) The waste management company says it could clean up the land, and
:)asked a large feel for cleaning up the property. I would like to find
:)out about getting a second opinion to watch over the waste management
:)A) Is it better to get a second opinion before the cleanup, after the
:)cleanup or as the cleanup goes on?
If you are uncomfortable with the conclusions/recommendations of the developer,
remediation firm and the local regulators overseeing the work, a consultant
hired to give a second opinion should be brought in before the cleanup to
evaluate the cleanup plan, during the cleanup to oversee the quality of the
work, and after the cleanup to verify that cleanup goals were achieved.

:)B) Can you recommend a waste management company to do the second

New Jersey is full of environmental consultants. I would recommend that you
find a firm that specializes in environmental risk assessment.
:)C) The pollutants are listed below in the letter. What are the problems
:)with these pollutants?

The polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known or suspected
carcinogens, beryllium is also a carcinogen. The heavy metals named, in high
concentrations, can cause various acute and chronic health problems.
:)D) How good is the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for
:)their monitoring?
:)E) Allowable levels of pollutants are usually given for adult males.
:)Any known effect for children? Are there lower levels allowed for these
:)pollutants for children?

Many environmental standards were developed using very conservative
assumptions, including the tendencies of some children to eat dirt (pica

:)F) Would it be safe for children after proposed cleanup and capping?
Without doing a detailed analysis of the particulars of the situation, I can't
offer an opinion on this; however, in general, I believe we as a society must
look at relative risks and measures to reduce risks where we can. There may be
more safety risks posed by the industrial truck traffic in the area, than the
health risks posed by residual contamination on the property. Similarly, the
risks posed by chemicals in the carpeting in the new school may be a greater
health risk.

:)2) The original samples were taken from the front 2.5 acres. Most
:)of the samples were taken around only 2 areas known to be contaminated.
:)Few samples were taken from areas not known to be contaminated. Is this
:)proper sampling techniques, or should more samples be taken from the
:)untested areas?

There are various sampling strategies (e.g., random, biased) applied to
environmental investigations. It is customary and reasonable to target
sampling to known or suspected areas of contamination. Some level of screening
should be applied to all areas of the site as it is developed.
:)A) How problematic might the contaminated water table below be once the
:)area is capped?

Doesn't sound like it will be a problem as long as the school doesn't plan to
use the groundwater. Unless the levels of volatile contaminants in groundwater
are extremely high, volatilization and exposure via the air pathway should be
:)3) The school plans to build while children (preschool age) would be on
:)the property. How safe or unsafe would that be after proposed cleanup?
:)4) Is there any other factor that I did not address that I may need to
:)address as well.
:)My goals are to make sure the property is safe for my children, and even
:)more importantly, make sure the property is completely safe for all the
:)other little children in the Yeshiva, and to avoid a potential tragedy
:)(Eg in 20 years finding out that something went terribly wrong).

This is one of the biggest problems with Brownfield development. We do not
have a very good history of long-term institutional control of property
development in this country. For those of you who have looked into the details
about the infamous Love Canal site, you will have noted that Hooker Chemical
reluctantly sold this property to the Board of Education in the early 1950s
with the guarantee of strict deed restrictions against disturbing the waste pit
areas. Please don't think that I'm defending Hooker Chemical for the burying
of toxic waste. Nor am I comparing the described property to the Love Canal
site. I'm simply pointing out, that deed restrictions tend to be forgotten
over a period of 10, 15 or 20 years. I'd like to hear from others on this
institutional control issue.
:)Thank you for your help with this.
:)P. Ledereich

You're welcome,

R. Kravitz
:)The property is 9 acres. The proposed purchase of the school property
:)is only the front 2.5 acres.
:) --------------------------------
:)LETTER from the waste management company:
:)Real names have been replaced by the following key.
:)[WASTE MANAGEMENT] is the waster management company writing this letter
:)and retained to do the cleanup.
:)[SCHOOL] is my childrens school that is proposing to purchase the land
:)[INDUSTRY] is the current owner of the contaminated property.
:) --------------------
:)....... Waste Management ..., .... Was retained by [School] to
:)investigate the feasibility of building a school at the above referenced
:)property which is currently owned by .... [industry]. [School] is
:)planning to purchase a 2.5 acre portion of the former [Industry]
:)facility (consisting primarily of the former administration building,
:)steel annex #2 and parking areas) which total s approximately 8.8 acres
:)in size and is currently being investigated pursuant to New Jersey's
:)Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA).
:)Although the ISRA investigation identified many area of concern with
:)regard to the back portion of the property, [WASTE MANAGEMENT COMPANY]
:)performed numerous tests on the 2.5 acres of the facility which [school]
:)wishes to develop and has concluded that there are only two areas on
:)concern specific to the 2.5 acre portion, the former steel, and coal bin
:)storage areas. Previous soil sampling conducted by [INDUSTRY] in these
:)two areas of concern revealed polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
:)and priority pollutant metals (PPMs) above the New Jersey Department of
:)Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Unrestricted Use Soil Cleanup Criteria
:)(UUSCC) in the soils underlying the property. PAHs which exceed the
:)UUSCC include benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene,
:)benzo[k]fluoranthene, benzo[a]pyrene, and indeno[1, 2,3-cd]pyrene, and
:)dibenz[a,h]anthradcene. PPMs which exceed the UUSCC include lead,
:)cadmium, beryllium, and nickel.
:)The PAHs and PPMs detected on the property are generally immobile in the
:)subsurface since they tend to bind to soil particles and dissolve only
:)slowly into ground water. They will not become airborne unless
:)disturbed and pose a risk only if ingested in large quantities. The
:)NJDEP would likely accept an impermeable asphalt cap over the
:)contaminated soil as a completely effective method of remediation, the
:)logic being that if you cannot get to the soil in order to eat it, there
:)is no potential for any human health concerns. This is what [INDUSTRY]
:)has propsed to do for the entire back portion of the property. Since the
:)type of contamination is generally immobile, this cap would effectively
:)stop the contamination from spreading. {Industry{ would receive a
:)Declaration of Environmental Restriction {DER} for the back portion of
:)the property, which means that they will always be subject to NJDEP
:)review to ensure that the cap remains in place and intact.
:)Although no risk is posed to any children with a cap in place, {SCHOOL]
:)has indicated to {WASTE MANAGEMENT] that they wish to go one step
:)further with respect to the proposed 2.5 acre tract. They do not want the
:)contaminated soil there at all and propose to remove it completely. The
:)borings [WASTE MANAGEMENT] installed indicated that the depths of the
:)contaminants are relatively superficial and it would be a simple
:)procedure to excavate all contaminated soils and resample the affected
:)areas to confirm that they are clean. New, certified clean soil would
:)then be used to fill those areas. Once the samples are confirmed clean,
:)no contamination above UUSCC would remain in the former steel and coal
:)bin storage areas and no cap would be required on the [SCHOOL] 2.5 acre
:)All samples collected to date and all samples collected in the future
:)will be sent to an NJDEP certified lab for anaylsis. Further,
:)throughout all investigations and subsequent remediation of the site, the
:)NJDEP will review all actions performed by [WASTE MANAGEMENT] and
:)determine if all of the remedial procedures followed were in accordance
:)with applicable state and federal regulations used to determine if a site
:)is clean. Once [WASTE MANAGEMENT] has performed the remedial work and the
:)NJDEP has reviewed it, the soil at the property will be deemed completely
:)clean and safe for any use, with no restrictions whatsoever.
:)Groundwater which flows underneath the property has also been
:)investigated by [INDUSTRY] in the form of installing monitoring wells
:)throughout the entire property. [INDUSTRY] files currently indicate
:)that there are 4 monitoring wells on the front 2.5 acres which [SCHOOL]
:)wishes to develop. These wells indicate contamination above New Jersey's
:)primary drinking water standards for chloroform, trichlorethene (TCE)
:)and tetrachloroethen (PCE). [INDUSTRY] is in the process of determining if
:)they, along witih properties upgradient of their property have
:)contributed to this contamination. They have however, determined that
:)this contamination did not originate from the 2 areas of concern on the
:)front 2.5 acres of the property.
:)The town of {....} uses city water and the groundwater on the property
:)ranges from 13 to 20 feet below the property, therefore, indicating that
:)the groundwater under the property will never be used. For these
:)reasons [INDUSTRY] has determined that they will place a Classification
:)Exception Area (CEA) over the whole property until the contamination
:)naturally degrades. This method, as determined by the NJDEP, is safe
:)for the public and is an acceptable way of monitoring the contamination in
:)groundwater which will not be utilized under these circumstances. The
:)only situation in which groundwater becomes problematic is when the
:)owner chooses to install a shallow private well which will not be installed
:)here, or in any other urban school location.