2009-08-06 / News

Proposed arts center site declared environmentally safe

By Tyler Will

During a special meeting on July 29 at the town library, Jamestown Arts Center board members and environmental officials outlined potential environmental hazards, including lead paint and asbestos window caulking, at 18 Valley St., the likely future location of the JAC.

The site was declared safe, according to state Department of Environmental Management offi cials.

The presentation was part of a required hearing by the state Department of Environmental Management, which calls for public notice. No members of the public attended.

Timothy Regan and Michael Andrews, both from DEM, said 18 Valley St. once had exterior leadbased paint, which chipped off and fell into the surrounding soil over time. The paint was the same that was used on the original Jamestown Bridge, Andrews said.

Bill Munger, the building’s current

owner, said the siding was originally plywood when the structure

was first built in 1940, but the building is vinyl-sided today. Andrews said that since the source of the lead paint has been covered, it is no longer a hazard, and belowsurface soil tests have determined that there is no lead hazard in the surrounding area.

“After it was determined there was a lead concern that exceeded DEM standards, that required them to investigate the property,” Andrews said. Samples are typically taken at least one foot below the ground surface, and testers often go further below the surface until there is no lead anymore.

Regan said one foot is usually sufficient because the paint chips do not travel very far beneath the ground surface.

“You do not need to, because it stays right on the top of the soil,” he said, adding that as an extra precaution, inspectors dug 15 feet down in 13 places on the property. Inspectors also tested for petroleum related products because the building is currently a boat repair facility.

“Those are the things you would expect, because of the use,” Regan said.

Andrews said that standard procedure when lead is found is to dig up the soil, place a layer of crushed stone, and then cover the stone with topsoil.

As for other environmental concerns, four windows at the property were found to have asbestos in the caulking. Regan said asbestos, in this case, is not a hazard because it is sealed in the caulking and cannot escape into the air. Scientists have determined that asbestos is only harmful if breathed, he said.

Even though it does not present an imminent hazard, the windows were still replaced, he said.

JAC documents said there is also an underground fuel tank on the property, which will be filled with cement by the seller prior to the closing of the sale.

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