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Councilors and staff promised to look into the concerns raised regarding the removal of contaminated soil and ensuring everything possible is done to remediate any environmental impact. Currently, the plan is for clean infill soil to be barged in, with removed soil to be transported away by truck, a process that Bill Skrabak of the city’s department of transportation and environmental services said would reduce what he called the “route of exposure” of any contaminated soil.
Question is, that still leaves 4,600+ truck trips carrying hazardous soil through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. The City brokered a deal with EYA, the developer of Robinson Terminal South, to barge soil in and out so why the difference?
It should also be noted that this approval of the Robinson Terminal North site by City Council was also covered at this link by WAMU as it pertains Mayor Euille voting on a development project from developer(s) he took campaign money from.
I spoke to City planning staff about this and they said there were serious environmental concerns as it pertained to barging soil out and told me to talk to Bill Skrabek of T & ES about this project. I attempted to speak to Bill about the ‘route of exposure’ as well as why soil could not be barged out and will add his comments to this post when he gets back to me.
UPDATE (4:26 PM): I spoke to Bill Skrabek who noted the following about this approval…
- The City takes public health and safety VERY seriously.
- Robinson Terminal South voluntarily offered to barge the soil in and out and as part of the negotiations for approval of the RTN, that’s where it was determined how much barging would occur for the site.
- It is not uncommon in the City of Alexandria to find contaminated soil where there were prior industrial uses (e.g. waterfront, rail yards).
- Under this plan, due to the fact that the ‘clean fill’ will be barged in, that alone is reducing the amount of overall truck trips by 40%.
- As part of this approval, the developer is REQUIRED to submit a Health and Safety plan which will be signed off by a Health & Safety engineer, a certified hygienist, as well as City staff. The conditions of the plan can be found at this link in the staff report (specifically Conditions 135-139 – Condition 137 Part D speaks to the Health & Safety plan).
- There are a host of other items the City is requiring on this site compared to other approvals (e.g. Remediation plans, Risk Assessment plans, an onsite safety manager, continuous monitoring of air quality, etc) all which must be accomplished prior to final site plans being issued.
- As for the ‘route of exposure’, it was deemed with securely covered trucks, that handling this soil once was better for the environment rather than handling the soil multiple times via barge.
Dear Red Brick Town,
At the last council meeting, City Council once again clearly demonstrated they are listening… to the developers but not the citizens of this community. Their vote to approve the conditions for a Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) for the redevelopment of the Robinson Terminal North (RTN) site blatantly shows they value protecting developer profits over the well-being and safety of the residents of that area and Alexandria citizens at large.
The Bogle Chemical Company operated on the RTN site for almost 51 years during which time it became contaminated with Arsenic trioxide, sodium arsenite, 2,4,5-T (the chemical in Agent Orange) and Silvex… all highly toxic chemicals. That contaminated soil must be excavated during construction according to the plans of the developers, CityInterests Inc. and Rooney Properties.
As stated in the RTN DSUP, 51,500 cubic yards of contaminated, toxic soil will be excavated to develop an underground garage. While barging is a safe, viable and affordable method of transporting that hazardous material from the site, the developer has refused to use barging on the Potomac River because it would increase their construction costs. To accommodate the developer, city staff backed away from their initial requirement to barge the material and now the city council has approved the use of over the road trucking of that toxic, contaminated soil through the streets and neighborhoods of Alexandria… right on the very streets, sidewalks and playgrounds where our children play and our pets roam.
How many trucks? At an average of 11 cubic yards per truckload (DSUP estimate), 4,682 round-trip truck trips will be required to remove the contaminated soil — 4,682 empty-truck trips in and 4,682 full-truck trips out… 9,300 plus trips exposing our neighborhoods and their citizens to toxic, hazardous waste. One can only estimate the increased toll on city infrastructure from that amount of truck traffic. All in the interest of protecting developer profits over ensuring public safety and preserving public infrastructure.
The primary role of government is the protection of its citizens and their property. Developer profits should not be more important than public safety nor should the citizens of Alexandria suffer the tax burden when it comes to fixing streets and other city infrastructure damaged by unnecessary overuse.
This is not a case of “don’t build in my back-yard”… the city needs development, but it needs responsible development, not development motivated by maximizing profit and influenced by campaign contributions where developers can come in, cherry pick property and strip-mine the city of its precious asset… land. The RTN DSUP approval clearly points to irresponsible city councilors… councilors that have developed an unhealthy relationship with developers and their campaign contributions… councilors that have turned a deaf ear to the citizens of Alexandria. The majority of people have stopped attending council meetings and expressing their opinion. The sense is, “Why bother? They don’t listen and are just going to do what they want anyway.” Next Tuesday is an opportunity to “express our opinion” and show the incumbent city council, in particular the ringleader Bill Euille, we are tired of them not listening and tired of developer influence. Don’t wait to be then next victim… vote for a new city council that will put the interests of citizens ahead of developer profits.
– Richard Platt
(Image via City of Alexandria)