Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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DEP: Soil tests OK at King Street construction site in Northampton

The 347 King St. site came under scrutiny by environmental regulators last week after construction workers reported smelling a petroleum-like substance while excavating a utility trench. At least one worker reported becoming ill.

The property is the former home of Kollmorgen Electro-Optical and is the site of two planned car dealerships by the Cosenzi Automotive Group — Northampton Volkswagen and Country Hyundai.

DEP officials said the Springfield environmental engineering firm of O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates took a soil sample from the site that was analyzed for volatile organic compounds, extractable petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls and total petroleum hydrocarbons. The results of detected compounds showed concentrations well below the standards that would trigger any environmental actions, according to the DEP.

“The low concentrations of compounds detected are indicative of a historic fuel oil release at the site, but as noted all results are well below our standards, which are protective of human health and the environment,” DEP Spokeswoman Catherine V. Skiba said in an email to the Gazette.

“At this time, based on these analytical results, there are no actions required by MassDEP,” she said.

According to the DEP, the environmental engineering firm plans to be on site inspecting while further work is conducted in the trench area where the petroleum smell was reported.

Meantime, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues its investigation into the incident. As of Monday, the federal agency said it had taken air samples and that inspectors may be on or off the job site as the needs of their inspection dictate.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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