Monday, March 08, 2010

Emerson and Clinton Need Remediation

Over the weekend Plaintalker picked up the agenda for Tuesday's Work & Study session of the Board of Education and was surprised to see two items regarding environmental remediation.

Click here and go to page 34 to start reading the items.

Although couched in bureaucratese, the items appear to be saying that the Schools Construction Corp., the state agency charged initially with building new schools and repairing older ones, neglected to take environmental precautions. (This in addition to burning through millions of dollars while falling short on its schedule, you may recall.)

Its successor, the Schools Development Authority, had an engineering firm test the sites of these two elementary schools and found contamination that needs to be remediated. In order to get a "No Further Action" letter from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, "Engineering Controls" must be constructed and other action taken by the school board.

The NFA letter "is needed in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs," the resolution states.

One hopes there will be an explanation in plain English of what exactly is going on here. Will there be added costs incurred by lapses of the defunct and notorious SCC? Emerson, built as a community school, is widely used for public events in addition to school uses. It is disconcerting to find out now the site has "low levels of petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals."

Also does "Historic Fill" mean that stuff trucked in was contaminated?

On the city side, Plainfield has embarked an a broad-based study of sites that may be contaminated by past industrial or commercial uses and which must be remediated before homes or new development projects can be constructed on them. Were these school sites subject to "Brownfields" studies or does the problem lie with dirt brought in from elsewhere?

The only remaining school construction project on the books right now is the Cook School expansion. Perhaps a grain of caution now would be worth a pound of remediation later and would avoid the troubles now coming to light at Emerson and Clinton schools.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

Thanks Bernice for bringing this up, I had something on it, but yours, as always, makes for better understanding to what needs to be concerning. If a I was a parent at any of those schools I would be up on arms right now!

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this and the city has laid off the staff person with expertise and experience in this area as well as a wonderful track record in getting grants for environmental remediation.

Smart move, huh?

9:12 AM  

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