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New Exide cleanup aims to get the lead out, once and for all

Updated 5:14 pm, Thursday, May 24, 2012

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  • Final remediation work on lead-contaminated property at the former Exide site continues, prior to any dredging to remove lead from the Mill River. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Final remediation work on lead-contaminated property at the former Exide site continues, prior to any dredging to remove lead from the Mill River. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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Cleaning toxins from the Post Road property of the former Exide Battery property has resumed while state officials review the company's plan to remove lead from a nearby stretch of the Mill River, which was first identified as a depository of the pollutant three decades ago.

One lane of the Post Road has been closed to traffic and heavy equipment has been deployed for the cleanup between the river and Martel's restaurant.

"Exide is now completing required remediation work in the Post Road right-of-way from the storm sewer pipe outfall on the bank of the Mill River back to the Exide property," Conservation Director Thomas Steinke said.

He said the work being done is left from the 2005-06 remedial action plan for the upland areas associated with the factory property at 2190 Post Road. After that is complete, lead remediation for the Mill River will be done.

Steinke said Friday he had received a copy of the new, revised plans for the river cleanup, but said he believes the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be treating the Exide lead problem and the chromium discharge from the Superior Plating factory into the same area of the Mill River as two different and distinct issues.

According to Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the DEEP, Exide's remediation plan for the river sediment cleanup will need state permits.

"Exide's goal is to begin this summer or fall, and continue through 2013," Schain said. "Before they can start, however, we must review and approve their action plan and also applications for any permits that will be required." He said the permit process may require a public hearing.

Exide Group Inc. has been under orders from the DEEP to remove the lead that was leaked from its Fairfield factory for 30 years. Cleanup of the factory property and abutting Mill River began in 1983, when about 4,000 yards of contaminated sediment was removed, while more ground contaminants were removed between 1987 and 1990.

The latest DEEP cleanup order was issued in 2008 when lead-pollution levels failed to subside after the initial cleanup efforts in 1983. The lead contamination probably is believed to have been caused primarily by spills during the manufacture of batteries that Exide produced at the factory before shutting down in 1981.

The factory building itself was demolished in 2005, followed by the removal of 13,000 tons of demolition debris, 10,000 tons of contaminated soil and about 4,000 feet of contaminated piping. Also razed was Exide's administrative building designed by award-winning architect Cameron Clark, although a doorway facade was preserved.

Steinke had hoped that cleaning up both lead from the Exide plant and chromium from Superior Plating, which still operates on Lacey Place across the river from the 6.2-acre Exide site, could be done at the same time.

Superior Plating is under a similar state order to clear chromium from the river, some of which is "co-located" with lead. Any that is co-located will be removed under the Exide plan.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771;http://twitter.com/GreillyPost