TOMS RIVER – A solar farm has been proposed to be built on the former Ciba-Geigy property off of Route 37, and the concept will be before the planning board on Sept. 18.
The property is known locally as the Ciba or Ciba-Geigy property, however, it is more accurately described as the BASF property, named after the current owners. Decades of dye manufacturing on the site created tons of chemical waste that was dumped into the ground and into the Toms River.
The applicant is an LLC called Toms River Merchant Solar. It is part of EDF Renewables, a company that specializes in renewable energy platforms.
The application calls for a 35 megawatt solar farm. No water or sewer hook-ups are requested.
According to a Board of Public Utilities document, the solar farm will be on 166 acres of the property, and might be the largest solar farm in the state. This document also noted that this particular land is still contaminated and that there are no plans for decontaminating it. The solar farm’s operations must not – according to the State Department of Environmental Protection – make the contamination worse.
Local residents speculated that the contamination was the cause of an increase in cancer cases a number of years ago. It’s one of the largest Superfund sites in the state. However, it was not able to be proven that the contamination was the direct cause of cancer.
The application before the planning board has no variances noted. Variances happen when a developer asks the town to bend the rules to allow their proposal.
According to the application, the company is still seeking approval from other agencies, such as the county’s planning board and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The application will be heard by the Planning Board at their regular meeting, 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, in the upstairs meeting room of Town Hall.