OIL LEAK PROMPTS HOUSE-RAISING

169-river-rdThe Red Bank home of the late Florence Forgotson has become a remediation site due to oil contamination. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s not an illusion: the house is not floating in mid-air.

Hard as it is to tell by casual glance from River Road, the home of the late Florence Forgotson Adams, who made her name as the county’s first female attorney, has been unexpectedly uprooted and placed on blocks a few feet above ground to clean up an oil leak discovered in December.

The leak came to light when a plumbing company went in to replace the home’s underground oil tank, only to see that it had several holes in the bottom, said Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels. The company reported the finding to the state Department of Environmental Protection, which ordered the foundation be torn out and the immediate area cleaned. ┬áSickels said that work started nearly two weeks ago.

Anthony Fabiano Sr., owner of the company that’s doing the remediation work, Fabco Inc., said the tank hadn’t been used in about 30 years. Because of that, the damage was limited to directly beneath the home, he said. The company conducted groundwater and soil tests, and found that no oil reached in or near the Navesink River, he said.

The company had a choice to either knock down the house or raise it above ground to get the cleanup done.

“They didn’t want to see the home destroyed,” Fabiano said.

Taking this route to get the cleanup done, he said, is the best course of action. Had the people overseeing the estate chosen to excavate beneath the home, it could have turned into a long, painful process. Instead, there’s several different companies who have thought out exactly how the project will be done and have pinpointed the impact of the damage, he said.

“It would have been a nightmare if anybody tried to excavate. Now we’re going in for the kill,” he said. “We know where the impact is. There is no surprises.”

Department Spokesman Larry Hajna said remediation projects like this one vary in how long they take. All sorts of tests and inspections must be done after the cleanup to satisfy the department’s soil standards, Sickels said.

“It’s impossible to tell,” Hajna said.

Fabiano said the cleanup will take another two to three weeks. To get the home’s foundation rebuilt and the house set back down will take about three or four months, he said. The home will actually be moved about 30 feet south when it is set back down.

The home, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Navesink River, is still listed in Monmouth County property records in Adams’ name even though she died in 2007 at age 99. Neither Sickels or the neighbor directly in front of the home believe anybody was living there recently. Fabiano said nobody was living there when the oil leak was discovered.

Fabco is documenting the progress at the home and anybody who wants to see pictures can go on the company’s web site, fabco-nj.com.