Blairstown residents concerned about water quality after unapproved refill
BLAIRSTOWN – For several months early last year, trucks dumped fill on a largely cleared property along Mount Vernon Road. It was to be used to level the property.
The township about a year ago issued the landowner with a notice of violation for dumping the backfill without a permit or approval.
Six months ago, a “solid waste dump” was reported to the State Department of Environmental Protection.
Now the neighbors have had enough and want action taken.
“I’m concerned,” said Ted Kozlowsky, who lives near the property at 50 Mount Vernon Road. He said his private water well filter was filled with sediment and other neighbors complained that their water “tastes bad”.
The “landfill” was declared at the end of March and a sign has been affixed along the road indicating that an “environmental investigation” of the property is underway.
An investigation and collection of samples of the backfill was carried out on March 24 by Brockerhoff Environmental Services. In April, he advised that, based on the amount and types of chemicals found in the samples, the “solid waste dump” be reported to DEP.
Brockerhoff’s report, dated April 8, was sent to a certain Joao De Oliveria with an address at 50 Mount Vernon Road.
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In his report, also filed with township officials and provided to neighbors following a request under the Open Public Archives Act, Frank Brockerhoff described the history of the embankment, including saying that about 50 Tandem backfill dump trucks had been dumped at the site.
The report notes that “during the investigation, debris was observed mixed with the infill throughout the property, including bricks, glass, asphalt, oyster shells and plastic debris and of metal “.
Following state procedures, 25 individual samples were taken of material from the top 6 inches of the backfill.
Brockerhoff said the number of loads and the depth of the backfill were based on what owner DeOliveria told him.
However, there is no record in Warren County that the property was sold again after June 30, 2017, when a company called 50 Mount Vernon Road LLC, sold the property for $ 70,000 to Alex Montalvo. and Karina Garces who listed their address as 50 Mount Vernon. Road.
The limited liability company that listed an address in Somerville bought the more than 5 acre land for $ 30,349 the previous year from Iris and Walter Rodgers, who provided their address at 50 Mount Vernon Road.
Brockerhoff, who is also a licensed site remediation professional, said he provided De Oliveria with a detailed list of scheduled services and costs for the cleanup required under DEP regulations and Acts. State.
He said he had not received a response from De Oliveria.
Koslowsky said he believes the embankment is actually much deeper, estimating that there is a ravine on the property about 15 feet deep.
Koslowsky’s property is located on a private road called Axehandle Road, but the backyards of some houses overlook the subject property.
Emily Baier, who lives closer to 50 Mount Vernon Road, said the trees in the lot were felled a few years ago and started dumping debris and dirt soon after.
She said she saw no signs of activity.
Baier, Kozlowsky and several other area residents approached the Blairstown Township committee at its last meeting to urge faster and more action.
“This is improperly imported land. It falls under the purview of the DEP and we are closely monitoring this situation for any updates on its development, ”said Township Mayor Rob Morehead.
The state DEP, in its response, said the department was aware of the situation and assigned it a case number.
A spokesperson said the DEP protocol “has long required the LSRP to provide updates on the cases it oversees because it has the most recent information and historical history available, and it is authorized to talk with the media “.
Brockerhoff said there had been no sampling of private wells in the area and no investigation or testing of groundwater flows.
His report reads: “Please note that exceedances of the NJDEP regulatory standard have been reported in all fill samples collected. “
Among the chemicals and metals found above standards were aluminum, manganese, mercury, chlordane, benzopyrene, and benzoanthracene.
The report noted that due to “higher contaminants of metals, pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons than permitted”, the owner must notify evidence of a release. The report also established timeframes for completing the remediation steps.
Mount Vernon Road climbs from near Paulinskill to the side of the ridges which are topped by the Kittatinny Ridge. The houses along the road are located on woodlots and the road leads to the Yards Creek pump storage facility.
Koslowsky, who recorded a short video of the property’s muddy runoff on the road after heavy rains last Thursday, said the flood of dump trucks on the road had not raised suspicion in the past two years, as Yards Creek was leading a project to increase the size and efficiency of its operations.
“Even city officials thought it was Yards Creek,” he said, “although apparently no one followed to see where the trucks were going and what was being dumped.
“It was definitely not a clean landfill,” he remarked. “I mean, oyster shells? It’s dredged stuff.”