The Department of Environmental Protection this week will launch a full investigation into the source of gasoline odors at the Wilson Avenue School in Newark and will discuss its efforts to date and future plans with parents and school officials during a meeting tomorrow night, Commissioner Bob Martin announced.
"The health of our children is our highest priority," Commissioner Martin said. "The DEP is committed to fixing this problem before children and teachers return to the school in September. The DEP and the Department of Health and Senior Services will maintain clear and open lines of communications with parents and the school district every step of the way."
Officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services will join the DEP for a community update meeting tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at St. Stephan's Church, located at Wilson Avenue and Ferry Street. The meeting is being facilitated by the Ironbound Community Corporation.
"The Department will continue to work with the DEP to evaluate sampling data and move forward with appropriate actions as more information becomes available," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh, M.D. "We will remain a resource to the community and will update residents on any health issues as we proceed."
Earlier this month, the DEP sent contractors to the school to clean up gasoline-contaminated water that flooded the basement when sump pumps failed. An initial investigation did not locate a source of the contamination. School officials have relocated children to another school building.
The DEP is now turning its longer-term investigation toward finding a possible source of contamination. As part of this investigation, the DEP will conduct air samples at about 25 properties in the vicinity of the school to ensure there is no wider spread contamination.
The DEP will collect ground water samples from properties surrounding the school to determine the direction in which contaminated water is flowing. This could help the DEP trace the contamination to a source.
New sump pumps will be installed in the school. The DEP also will install ventilation systems to draw vapors from under the building. The DEP will conduct air sampling to ensure the systems are working properly.
Before the school reopens, the DEP will hold another community meeting to explain the work that has been done. A tour of the school to explain work activities will also be offered. The DEP's Site Remediation Program will post activity updates at http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/