Vailsburg Middle School
Newark City, Essex County
Community Relations Coordinator: Mindy Mumford
25 February 2009
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began remedial activities on July 28, 2008 to
address potential impacts to the former Vailsburg Middle School from vapor intrusion. Vapor intrusion occurs
when fumes from contaminated soil or ground water seep through cracks and holes in foundations or slabs of
buildings and accumulate in basements, crawl spaces or occupied areas. DEP initiated this remediation after
elevated levels of benzene, tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) were detected in ground water,
soil gas and indoor air samples collected by the Getty Service Station located across the street from the school.
The Getty Service Station is not believed to be the source of the PCE and TCE in ground water.
In January 2008, soil gas and indoor air sampling was conducted by Getty at various locations on the school
grounds including the cafeteria/kitchen and several classrooms. During the soil gas testing, samples of the air
from the soil below the building foundation were collected and analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The indoor air sampling measured levels of VOCs present in the air inside the building.
The January soil gas samples revealed the highest levels of PCE and TCE in the soil beneath the cafeteria.
These results were 895 μg/m3 of PCE and 1090 μg/m3 of TCE. These results exceed the Soil Gas Screening
Levels of 34 μg/m3 and 27 μg/m3, respectively. Please note, however, that soil gas is air underneath the
building, and would not be the air that a person would be breathing while in the building or standing outside in
the parking lot. Indoor air results revealed PCE and benzene at their highest levels in the cafeteria where PCE
measured at 5.6 μg/m3 and benzene at 3.2 μg/m3, which exceeded the Indoor Air Screening levels of 3 μg/m3
and 2 μg/m3, respectively. TCE was not detected in the indoor air. An exceedence of air screening levels does
not necessarily mean that a building is unsafe, rather an exceedence of screening levels is cause for further
evaluation, and if necessary, remediation.remediation.
The New Jersey Department of Health reviewed the indoor air data and concluded that
the contaminant concentrations detected in the indoor air do not present any immediate health risk. However,
to prevent the contaminated air detected in the soil gas from entering the building, DEP is installing a Perimeter
Soil Vapor Extraction System. The system is designed to reduce the levels of TCE, PCE and benzene in the air
below the slab by continuously venting the contaminated air beneath the building to the exterior of the structure.
Key Construction Activities
- Construction activities at the site began July 28, 2008. These activities were scheduled for the summer
months for the safety of the children.
- Site activities at the school included excavation in the paved areas to allow for installation of the Perimeter
Soil Vapor Extraction System (system).
- The system was operational on September 25, 2008. Although the Newark Public Schools chose not to
renew their lease, the system remains operational as the owner of the property seeks either new tenants or a
- DEP resampled the indoor air and subslab soil gas on December 11 and 12, 2008 to ensure the system is
reducing the levels and is working effectively. Results of this testing indicates that the system is working efficiently
and the indoor air results reveal no exceedances of DEP’s Residential Indoor Air Screening Levels for the
contaminants of concern associated with the site. In addition, no background contaminants were detected in
the six indoor air samples in excess of DEP’s Residential Indoor Air Screening Levels.
- Most of the system is not visible because the equipment is primarily installed under the ground with the
exception of a small garden shed used to house the above-ground equipment.
In addition to remedial activities at the former Vailsburg Middle School, DEP initiated an off-site investigation
in September 2008 to determine if vapor intrusion is occurring in buildings in the surrounding neighborhood.
DEP sampled eight homes and results from these air samples indicate that vapor intrusion is not occurring at
any of the homes tested.
For more information about the site or the remediation activities, please contact Suellen May, Community
Relations Coordinator at (609) 292-5299.
Additional information can be viewed on the DEP Web site at www.nj.gov/dep/srp/community.
Please be advised that these
cases labeled by OCR as inactive may still be undergoing remedial
activities but OCR has no involvement. Documents that are available
on this page associated with the inactive list may not reflect
the current status of a case.