Community updated on cleanup of gas plant site

Seaview Manor site remediation & restoration slated for summer 2012

Staff Writer

Remediation of the former manufactured gas plant site on Long BranchAvenue is progressing according to schedule, a representative of New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) told a community group on Oct. 4.

Representatives from NJNG and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provided an update at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) and held at the Adam “Bucky” James Community Center on Wilbur Ray Boulevard.

Margaret Bruderek, environmental engineer and project manager for NJNG, explained in a presentation that the next step in the project is to remediate the parcel known as Lot 6.

“Right now we are basically in the permitting and planning stage and then we’ll implement the work,” she said. “We will bid the work out; we will begin the remediation and complete the site restoration.”

Lot 6 is a parcel of land that formerly was the site of the Seaview Manor housing located on Long Branch Avenue. Bruderek said she is hopeful the permitting will be completed in the fall and that NJNG will shortly go out to bid and award a contract for the work.

“Once we pick our contractor, we will mobilize and they’ll set up all their equipment,” she said. “That may happen in the winter or spring of 2012.

“We’ll perform the remediation and restoration, and that should occur in the summer 2012,” she added.

William Dangler, who is a member of CAP, said the community panel is pleased with how remediation of the site is going.

“The gas company, and with DEP overseeing everything that’s going on, we are moving forward,” he said in an interview. “Things are going pretty smoothly.”

Dangler said CAP was formed four years ago with the goal of overseeing the project and informing the community of the ongoing work.

CAP members include city officials, community members, representatives of the Long Branch Housing Authority, citizen groups, members of the clergy, and property and business owners.

He said there have been some questions from the community on how long it has taken to move forward with the remediation project, which began in 2000.

“I know there were questions about time frames, but there is a lot of red tape down in Trenton,” Dangler said. “It’s just the nature of things, and you have to take your time and make sure everyone is safe and approved.”

Joe Karpa, case manager for the DEP, said after the meeting that he is satisfied with the progress being made on the site.

“When reports come in, they are well written and basically we know exactly what we are getting, because we talk about it before the reports even get there,” Karpa said in an interview. “So when reports come in, they are typically approved immediately, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the work that’s being done.”

Karpa said that after the remediation of lot 6 is completed, the next phase is to construct a bridge on Seaview Avenue.

During the presentation, Bruderek said the work is all being done in accordance with all rules and regulations and is done with the environment in mind.

“Any of the material we remove will be disposed of off-site and will be thermally absorbed and recycled as landfill cover,” Bruderek said. “We want to remain in compliance with all DEP rules.

“We make sure to protect workers, the community and the environment,” she added.

Bruderek explained that the site will be secure and safe when the project begins.

“We will have perimeter fence for site security; we will do health and safety monitoring for the workers,” she said. “We’ll have perimeter monitoring in place for the community; there will be water management around the clock.”

According to Bruderek, there is also a traffic control plan and all material removed will be taken off the site. There will also be a wastewater treatment plant on the site that she expects to be enclosed so it won’t be affected during the winter.

Bruderek said that in the previous phase, the buildings on the Talco property were demolished last year and the entire property was excavated and the soil was backfilled.

She said a 2-foot cap was placed over the affected area, which includes 6 inches of gravel, a 12-inch layer of certified clean fill material and a 6-inch layer of top soil.

Another project on that site that was completed last winter was the remediation of the front of a residential property.

“It was a residential property located on Seaview Avenue adjacent to Troutman’s Creek,” Bruderek said.

“Any of the impacted soil sediments were moved off-site,” she added. “We cleaned up the property to unrestricted residential use [standards] and we restored the property using backfill materials.”

The former gas plant operated from 1870 to 1961 on a 17-acre site that is now located in the city’s Broadway Gateway redevelopment zone.

While in operation, the gas plant produced coal tar, which is a mixture of hydrocarbons and other compounds left after combustion that produces a residue with a sticky texture that resembles roofing tar.

In 1951 NJNG purchased the site from Jersey Central Power & Light Co., and some 30 years later, residues of coal tar were found in the soil and waterways surrounding the area. Studies on the contamination impact started as early as 1984, and remediation efforts at the area began in 2000.