Mar 01, 2012

Concerns Raised About Soil Contamination at Rhode Island Construction Site

Plans to build are on hold for the moment while the town tries to determine whether the soil exceeds allowable levels of contaminants

Plans to build a $20-million office and retail development in Smithfield, R.I., have ground to a halt over concerns about contaminated soil, according to the Valley Breeze and Observer.

The Planning Board toured the 28-acre site in late January and were surprised to discover debris including auto parts, oil containers, construction waste, shards of sulfuric acid containers, concrete blocks and two monitoring wells that indicated the land at one point had been tested for contamination.

Churchill & Banks, the developer, sent the town a 2001 report from environmental engineers that show soil on parts of the site contains petroleum hydrocarbons appearing to significantly exceed Department of Environmental standards for both residential and commercial-industrial uses, and that concentrations of lead, arsenic and beryllium exceed standards for residential use. 

Although the developer has proposed residential uses for the property in the past, no housing is planned under the current proposal, but neighborhood residents said the newly discovered information has them concerned about their wells.

According to the report, groundwater itself did not contain contaminants exceeding the state's allowable minimums.

One section of the report shows the levels of total petroleum hydrocarbons in tested soil ranging from 1,200 to 33,500 mg per kg, while maximums allowed by the state are 500 for residential use and 2,500 for industrial and commercial use.