Child care center (CCC) operators must meet substantial regulatory compliance requirements for state licensing of new and existing facilities under the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Department of Health (DOH). At a minimum, when a new CCC is proposed or an existing CCC desires to make an addition or change, environmental evaluation is triggered under the NJDEP Site Remediation Program through the Preliminary Assessment (PA), Site Investigation (SI), and Response Action Outcome (RAO) process.
Retained to evaluate an existing CCC for re-licensing purposes, ESA conducted a PA and associated SI at a facility that has operated as some form of childcare since the early 1990s. The Areas of Concern (AOCs) that could impact the CCC operations were limited at this property; however, the operator desired to construct a new playground area within a previously unused portion of the property, so an SI was conducted. Review of the property history did not identify any prior/historic uses of concern, and soil/surface material within the new proposed outdoor playground area was presumed to be clean.
Although a review of the site’s history revealed nothing of concern, due to the direct contact that children would have to the site’s surface soil, SI sampling of this new playground area was conducted per NJDEP CCC guidance. The soil sampling revealed concentrations of pesticides in the soil that was above acceptable NJDEP standards and thus warranted remediation. The source of the pesticides in the soil was not certain, but it was likely attributable to the importation of fill materials at the property during the early construction and site grading phases. Historical agricultural use was not a concern at this property.
Regulations governing CCCs are the most strict of any property use scenario, and remediation of the identified impacts in some fashion was required to renew the existing CCC license. Remedial options for addressing environmental impacts of soil are generally limited, and selection of a capping remedy was too costly a solution due to operation use area and long-term maintenance and monitoring requirements.
Due to the nature of the identified soil impacts, the excavation and off-site disposal of impacted soil was determined to be the most efficient remediation method for the situation.
Through additional soil delineation sampling and subsequent soil excavation, ESA remediated the pesticide-impacted soil throughout the new proposed outdoor play area via soil excavation and off-site disposal. This method of remediation proved to be the most efficient and cost-effective approach to meet the client needs and timeline with re-licensing of the CCC in concert with the grand opening of this new state of the art outdoor play area. Not only does the CCC operator have a new outdoor play area for the children attending the facility, the addition of this area also increases exposure to potential CCC attendees and allows for increased capacity at the facility, offsetting the remedial cost required to obtain NJDEP compliance for construction and use of the new area at the property.