DEP BEGINS CLEANUP
AT BRANCH BROOK PARK
Buried Fuel Contamination Found During County Recreational
(04/139) TRENTON -- Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell
today joined with Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo,
Jr. to announce an immediate cleanup will begin at Branch
Brook Park in Newark to remove contaminated soil found during
construction of two new recreational fields at this county
"Branch Brook Park is an important resource for the
community and it is vital that the state begin this clean
up to protect public health and the local environment,"
said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "When these
park improvements are complete, residents will have first
class facilities on which to play baseball and softball."
"We're taking action to clean up the park to ensure
this recreational haven poses no environmental concerns
to the community," said Commissioner Campbell. "DEP
has supported County Executive DiVincenzo's efforts to upgrade
Branch Brook Park with Green Acres funding. Now, we will
move quickly to clean up the contamination found so that
field renovations can continue."
A county contractor uncovered the contamination in October
during renovation of several athletic fields used for recreational
baseball and softball. DEP began testing the site later
that month to determine the extent of the newly found contamination.
The tests revealed gasoline and diesel product under the
locations of two fields, while the area for three other
fields was unaffected.
"This is a great example of the County and State working
together to find a solution to remove the contaminated soil
and still renovate the recreation fields, all for the benefit
of our residents," DiVincenzo said. "Branch Brook
Park is the first county park in the country and it is a
place where hundreds of young athletes play their games
and learn about teamwork and sportsmanship. With help from
Green Acres we already were in the process of upgrading
the recreational facilities in the park and with the DEP's
help again we will remove the contamination from the park,"
DEP authorized $500,000 to design and construct a fuel
product recovery system to address the contamination found
on site. Soil saturated with fuel will be removed for off-site
DEP's contractors will continue testing and cleanup work
through winter to delineate and remove the fuel contamination.
DEP also is expediting review of land use permits for other
parts of the overall project, now that the county had to
shift renovations to field work in other areas not affected
by the pollution.
Essex County began renovations at the Branch Brook Park
in May 2004. DEP's Green Acres Program provided some of
the funding for the improvements. The Branch Brook Park
Alliance, North Ward Center, Boys & Girls Club and Roberto
Clemente Little League each received $250,000 grants from
the Green Acres program. In addition, the Essex County Open
Space Trust Fund Advisory Board approved $1 million in matching
funds for the four grants. Another $1.7 million to fund
the project came from the Multi-Parks Improvement Program
that was funded with an $850,000 grant from Green Acres
and $850,000 in matching funds from the Open Space Trust
If residents have questions or comments about the remedial
work at Branch Brook Park, call DEP's community relations
office at 800-253-5647.