PRINCETON: AvalonBay site tests shows higher-than-permitted levels of chemicals and metals

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Testing found higher than permitted levels of a chemical and metals in crushed concrete and other material at the AvalonBay construction site on Witherspoon Street, the town said last week.
The town late Friday disclosed the findings of those tests and said AvalonBay has provided the municipality with a copy of the remedial action plan that it had filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection. Per state regulations, an AvalonBay-hired consultant will be responsible for implementing the plan, with steps including capping the site and removing “surplus” stockpiles of “reworked site material.”
Work on the future site of a 280-unit residential development has been halted for most September, and it was not immediately clear when work might resume. An AvalonBay representative could not be reached for comment.
In a report posted on the municipal website, AvalonBay’s consultant EcolSciences said concrete and bricks from the old hospital buildings and the sidewalks were “crushed and included” with other site materials, like soil and some pavement for re-use on the site. Collectively, that is known as “Reworked Site Material.”
The EcolSciences report said that “a portion” of those materials had been “placed throughout the property and compacted.” Surplus stockpiles of the material were due to be hauled away to a landfill, but testing found the presence of two chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and polychlorinated biphenyl, the town said in a news release issued Sept.8.
Further testing on the site showed that the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, or PAHs, and metals including nickel “exceed” residential standards set by the state DEP, the town said Friday. But there were no “detectable” amounts of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs, the town added.
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PAHs “seems to be associated with cancer in humans.”
Town administrator Marc D. Dashield said Monday that AvalonBay would have to file with the Mercer County Clerk’s office a deed notice saying that there are levels of PAHs “capped underneath the property.”
Stockpiles of the material are covered with plastic sheeting.
AvalonBay expects to be finished with construction by the end of 2016, according to the EcolSciences report.