Mahwah August 5, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 5 Expert claims Pilot exceeds benzene standard by Frank J. McMahon An air quality expert hired by Paks Fast Service Inc., which owns the Valero service station north of the Pilot Truck Stop site on Route 17 in Mahwah, testified at the township’s last board of adjustment meeting that benzene emissions at the Pilot site currently exceed the state’s standard and will “far exceed” that benchmark if the site is renovated and rebuilt. Brook Crossan, who has been a licensed professional engineer and air quality consultant since the 1970s, advised the board the state standard is 0.13 micrograms per acre. Based on a computer model, he calculated the level at the Ridge Road and Route 17 sides of the Pilot site at 0.08 micrograms and 0.06 micrograms at the running track on the other side of Ridge Road and 0.03 at the nearest school building on Ridge Road. However, he said when the background benzene concentration, calculated by the state to be 0.38 micrograms, is added to his Pilot calculations, emissions rise to between 0.41 and 0.46 micrograms per acre. Crossan concluded from his calculations that, if the renovation of the Pilot site is approved, the benzene emission levels would increase to 500 percent above the state’s benchmark. Crossan’s qualifications as an expert and his testimony about his calculations of the benzene emissions at the Pilot site were challenged by James Lott, the attorney for Pilot. Members of the zoning board also expressed skepticism about his conclusions. Lott questioned Crossan’s qualifications to test the air quality at the Pilot site because Crossan acknowledged that he had never before testified before a board about an application similar to Pilot’s, and he did not conduct the air modeling of the site himself. “I don’t think he has the qualifications to test air quality,” Lott told the board. “It seems he is more qualified as an air quality generalist. He is unable to identify a municipal board he testified before where he did a report such as the one he will be testifying about tonight.” Board Vice Chairman Charles Rabolli asked Crossan if he measured the emissions at the Pilot site, and Crossan acknowledged that his conclusions were based on calculations done on a computer model. “They are calculated measurements based on a projection of averages,” he told Rabolli and the board. Asked if his conclusions were extrapolated, Crossan said there is a difference between calculation and extrapolation and he explained that air quality cannot be monitored at 1,000 different points. Board Secretary Arie Slot responded that he could have monitored the emissions at a specific site, but Crossan said he used the New Jersey Department of Transportation traffic counts from 2006 and all the methodology the state uses for air quality impacts. Slot was not convinced and responded, “It sounds like smoke to me.” Slot also asked if Crossan considered the emissions from the other five gas stations within a mile of the Pilot site. Crossan said he did not because the benzene concentration at the nearby school was modest, so it would be far less a quarter mile away. Asked by Slot if he considered the gas station across the street from the Pilot site, Crossan said he could have, but he did not have information on the volume of gasoline sales or the vehicles using that site. “I don’t buy it,” Slot said. “There are 12 gas pumps being added at the Pilot site and there are three times that many within a third of a mile of the Pilot site. (It) seems to me that you would have to take that into account.” Crossan countered that even if the gas stations up and down Route 17 were added to his calculations it would not affect the health impact at the Pilot site from the (continued on page 8) Chamber sets high tea The Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold a high tea for members and non-members on Thursday, Aug. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bon Appetit, The French Bakery and Café at 80 Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah. 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