Derek Michalski of GREENUSR and the Staff of the Ridgewood blog
Mahwah NJ, Mahwah Environmental Commission and its members were apprised over the weekend by Derek Michalski of the situation in USR and ongoing concerns regarding alleged arsenic and lead pollution. Also they were provided with new aerial surveillance video documenting that Toll Brothers is using underground and above ground pumps to dewater “colloidal clay” directly into Pleasant Brook. After full year of Stop Work Order one might think the situation would get better not worse. However USR aquifer is still being destroyed in front of our eyes and the NJ residents who live along the path of the Pleasant Brook are clearly at risk. According to a local physician “the unfortunate reality is that we won’t see real evidence of arsenic issues for 20 years. The time is now to insure the health of those at risk. If this is not done, it is truly a failure of government to perform its primary role in society”.
Also Derek Michalski expressed his concerns regarding another project to be started by Toll Brothers on the other side of Pleasant Brook. The project is known under name One Lake Street project (former Pearson Education site).
In opinion of many USR residents the new project should not be allowed to proceed until Pleasant Brook and its sediment is properly remediated from arsenic and lead that had been accumulating over the course of past 13 months and caused by Toll Brothers’ on and off mud/“colloidal clay” pumping. This community can not afford to build 22-25 affordable housing units and lose its precious aquifer at the same time. It’s time to reset all the One Lake Street plans and re-evaluate all prior permits. This is the only right thing to do at this time. You can’t reverse the damage done on Meadowbrook Road but you definitely can prevent potential further damage on the other side of Pleasant Brook (see Toll Brothers‘ re-zoning map) at One Lake Street in Upper Saddle River.
The back ground on the Apple Ridge Site is another example of forced over development “A settlement was reached in April 2016, with Mack-Cali agreeing to reimburse the borough $500,000 to build sewerage for the proposed housing development, and another $2.5 million for the construction of 25 affordable housing units elsewhere on borough-owned property. The borough in turn paid Mack-Cali $2 million for nine acres of the property for a potential municipal town hall and office building, library or park. Mack-Cali sold the remaining 38 acres to Toll Brothers.”
Alec Schwartz, M.D. commented in a email sent to the NJ DEP ,”If you have read “The Apple Bites Back.” Published by the NIH, there is a quote by Carl Renshaw, of Duke University. He states, that, when remediating former tree fruit orchards, for arsenic, unless you’re very careful about erosion control, “you’re going to send a lot of arsenic downstream.” Frank Palotta illustrated this by testing the water being discharged into the Pleasant Brook, from Appleridge. We all know that arsenic does not float on the surface of a moving body of water. Any testing that was done in follow up to Frank’s, as far as I can tell, was of SURFACE water only, while no water was being discharged into the stream.
Lynne, I am a physician, not a crackpot environmental fanatic. I have been taught to see discrepancies in statistics. The discrepancy here is that by comparing arsenic levels, as mentioned above, does not prove there’s no issue with what is going into the water. Regardless of the fact that the land there was remediated, the earth is loosened and BARE, LEAVING IT RIPE FOR EROSION…AND THERE IS ALOT OF ARSENIC THERE by weight…the only thing that has changed is the concentration of arsenic. All the comparative analyses show is that what was being discharged, as determined By the intitial private testing, has moved and landed somewhere else, likely downstream.
The New Jersey residents who live along the path of the Pleasant Brook are clearly at risk. I personally know of 3 residents who’s wells have converted from normal arsenic levels to high. Two of these are VERY high, and they’ve been told not to use their water even for oral care.
The NJDEP is obliged to step in and make sure no public health concern has been created here. The unfortunate reality is that we won’t see real evidence of arsenic issues for 20 years. The time is now to insure the health of those at risk. If this is not done, it is truly a failure of government to perform its primary role in society.”