Source: http://www.trentonian.com, May 30, 2014
By: Sherrina Navani
The former grounds of the University Medical Center of Princeton needs a very good cleaning.
The hospital and the land it sits on are being prepped to become the new grounds for a low-to-middle income housing complex called Avalon Bay. Developers for the 280 units have battled with the municipality since 2012 and earlier this month, filed a lawsuit against Mayor Liz Lempert, council, the town and municipal department heads for forcing the company to do additional environmental testing and cleaning before breaking ground.
According to the administration, on May 22, discharge was found on the grounds where two previously abandoned 6,000 gallon oil tanks are buried. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, (NJDEP) was notified by officials regarding the contaminated soil, located between the hospital and parking garage.
“Any soils found to be subject to a discharge will be removed from the site and properly disposed of at a NJDEP approved facility,” read a recent release by the engineering department of the township.
The Yannuzzi Corporation is tasked with removing large amounts of asbestos that has been identified with the hospital building. For the next eight weeks, the carcinogen will be double bagged, loaded into a container and transported off site to be legally disposed. According to the mayor, to date only one container full of asbestos has been removed from the site.
Inside the buildings, electric wiring, old pipes, carpets and copper water pipes, are just a few of the ancient items being disposed. “The site continues to be monitored on a regular basis by representatives of Whitman Environmental, and the Municipal Building, Engineering and Health Departments,” according to the township engineering department. “In addition, representatives of the Department of Labor continue to visit the site as well. Workers continue to be found to be qualified and properly certified for the work that they are performing and have been observed to follow proper safety protocols.”
The township will begin a series of community meetings inviting residents to voice their concerns regarding the construction. Avalon Bay developers have refused to attend any of the meetings according to the mayor.
The Association for Planning at Hospital Site, (APHS) has waged a war against the developers, asking for the township to further scrinized the number of residents and the environmental impact to the neighborhood surrounding the hospital.
“Expert testimony during Avalon Bay’s first application noted that sanitary waste water from hospitals of this era has a history of containing mercury, silver, barium, phenols, and other hazardous compounds,” according to the APHS. “While an abandoned septic system at the original hospital was discussed during the Planning Board hearings, no investigation of residual contaminants is planned. No site-wide soil or groundwater testing was performed and Avalon Bay won’t agree to any.”