Study on Princeton Sewer Operating Commission to be completed soon

Photo by Anthony Stoeckert
A lone tree stands in a portion of the Princeton Battlefield. (Photo by Anthony Stoeckert)

The results of a preliminary environmental study of the Princeton Sewer Operating Commission site on River Road, conducted by Whitman Environmental Consulting, are expected to be ready by early September.

The test results, which included drilling and boring for soil samples, will show whether there was any soil contamination as a result of allegedly illegal dumping on the property. Based on those results, a remediation plan will be developed, according to Princeton officials.

In the meantime, Whitman Environmental Consulting has removed asbestos-containing material that had been stored in roll-off containers at the site. The bags of pipe wrap, which contain asbestos, had been left on the site by a contractor who had been making sewer repairs.

Whitman Environmental Consulting was hired earlier this summer to determine the nature and extent of potential soil and water contamination. It is suspected that there may have been illegal dumping at the River Road site, according to Planet Princeton.

In addition to the soil samples, Whitman Environmental Consulting and state Department of Environmental Protection representatives conducted a full habitat inspection of the main area where dumping had allegedly occurred and the surrounding area to evaluate whether any dirt had encroached on wetland areas, Princeton officials said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection notified Princeton officials in June that the town had been illegally operating a dump at the River Road site, following an earlier inspection in February, according to Planet Princeton.

Princeton officials conducted an initial investigation into the matter and decided to refer it to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Planet Princeton. There were allegations of dumping and improper use of town equipment and staff.

It has been alleged that several private contractors had dumped dirt and asphalt at the River Road site, and also used it as a source of cheap equipment and labor, according to Planet Princeton.

Meanwhile, three Princeton municipal employees have been fired as a result of the investigation.

Bob Hough, the director of Infrastructure and Operations, was fired June 24. He had been placed on administrative leave, but then fired after new details from the investigation revealed that he had not provided appropriate oversight, Princeton officials said.

Thomas Hughes, the supervisor of sewer operations in the Sewer Operating Division, was fired June 6. He has been charged with bribery for accepting payments to influence his official duties in connection with the illegal dumping at the River Road site.

In addition to Hough and Hughes, “administrative action” was taken against a third, unnamed employee in the Sewer Operating Division on June 21, Princeton officials said.