The developer who plans to build 57 townhouses in Alexandria on contaminated land near the waterfront said last week that the fact that arsenic has contaminated the soil will be spelled out in documents to be held by the project's Homeowners Association.
William G. Thomas, an attorney for Development Resources Inc., which wants to build the townhouse project at the site formerly owned by the R.H. Bogle Co., Inc., told a public hearing of the Alexandria City Council that the soil information will be made a part of the "conditions, convenants, and restrictions" governing the project.
"We think that's the most meaningful place to put this information," Thomas said during a recess in the hearing. "You put it in the first contract, and who knows whether it will be in the second contract when the house is resold?"
Thomas was asked by Councilman Robert L. Calboun to submit to the council a draft of the language that would be in the covenant. Inclusion of the language could be made a part of conditions under which the city would grant the developer a special use permit to develop the site, located just off the waterfront between Oronoco and Pendleton Streets east of Fairfax Street.
The question of what to do with the contaminated sites has been an issue in the city since it was revealed almost two years ago that arsenic had been deposited in the area by Bogle, which formerly operated a herbicide plant where the townhouses are to be built.
Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Health cited Development Resources for "willful violation" of safety provisions and fined the company $30,000.
The department said that the company had failed to warn workers on the site of the danger posed by the arsenic and had not provided them with required protective equipment. The case is now in Alexandria General District Court, where a judge may reduce or eliminate the fine.
Councilwoman Ellen Pickering has led a campaign to have the city buy the land and turn it into a public park, but the council seems certain to approve the townhouse cluster when it meets on Oct. 25.
At the hearing, Pickering fired a series of questions at Roger Mechanic, president of Development Resources, about the safeguards he will take to protect the workers and residents.
Machanic said that no contaminated soil will be removed from the site, but that it will be spread around and diluted with fresh soil, in order to bring the level of contamination down to 200 parts per million.
That is the level at which the federal government requires that precautions be taken, but some areas of the Bogle property have arsenic concentrations as high as 30,000 parts per million.
Mechanic said the utility lines and most of the water pipes would be encased in a protective layer of iron-rich clay, which is to cover the entire area in order to seal the contaminated soil. But Pickering said no evidence had been presented to indicate that the clay will in fact seal off the soil.
"Most of his replies were platitudes about how safe it is going to be," Pickering said of Mechanic's presentation.