An open letter to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection:

It appears that the department's Mill River lead cleanup plan is still following the old quip of "There will always be enough time to do it over again but not enough time to do it thoroughly and right the first time." Again with the official permitting proposal just made, more questions have been raised than answered. And the Town of Fairfield, which has to live with the results, should have its reservations heard and responded to with resulting accountability before permitting is allowed to proceed. Even though this plan is one of many the department is handling, lip service is no substitute.

Although the expensive engineering involved is well thought out in terms of its operational complexity, it should accommodate the remaining pollution from Superior Plating and other sources, not completely investigated for neutralizing and removal.

Furthermore, down-stream environmental monitoring is not completely detailed to preclude sediment stir-up in the removal from doing more damage with the original contamination settled in the river bed.

The Department's presentation on Jan. 10, led by Officers Carolyn Fusaro and Don Gonyea, did not help community confidence by artfully truncating opportunity for public comment by filling up almost all the time with a convoluted dog and pony show concerned more with who's turf was who's within the department's permit authority.

Two moves are now necessary. First, with no less than three town commissions having weighed in their review with serious objections and concern input, the first selectman, in direct contact with Gov. Malloy, should demand in their behalf and order a tune-up, that the department should not hide behind statute application for the expedience of their clients and take note of these concerns and come back for final hearing on how they will be addressed and settled before permitting and work follows.

Secondly, our town's response, along with applied pressure from our legislative delegation, should at least pave the way for definite deadline extension for public comment. Fairfield residents are not fooled and they should not be led along by the nose by department administrative convenience. Finishing the Exide remediation the right way and to permanently remove all the decades old contamination requires no less. To do that, Inco and Superior Plating should remain on the liability hook.

David K. Sturges