Meeting Thursday to discuss Fairfield’s contaminated fill pile
FAIRFIELD — The town is seeking bids to remove contaminated fill from the pile on Richard White Way, while so far, testing has shown PCB and lead contamination is isolated to a small area.
The fill pile was run for three years by Julian Development, with the goal to reduce the size of the pile, made up of road construction debris such as concrete and asphalt, as well as the spoils from street and catch basin cleaning. Under its contract, Julian was allowed to bring in clean fill to mix with the existing materials to make it marketable. However, officials said the firm was bringing in more material than expected, and the size of the pile was instead growing. That led to complaints from neighbors about the view of the pile, as well as associated noise and truck traffic.
The contract, which expired Dec. 15, 2016, was not renewed, but shortly before that, an on-site environmental professional hired by the town spotted a load of material delivered that looked unusual. The material was tested and found to have low levels of contamination. The area was kept isolated, and the material covered.
“At this point, the testing has been completed in order to quantify the material that needs to be removed and to have bid specifications developed,” Conservation Director Brian Carey said. “Additional testing will be required once all of the material is removed to confirm that there is no residual contaminated materials left on site.”
Carey said the town believes the contaminated materials are isolated to the northeast corner of the site, but added that the additional testing will ensure all contaminated materials were properly removed once the remediation is complete.
The bids for the removal are due back on April 25. A meeting to update neighbors was slated to be held Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m., at Sherman School.
According to the bid request, the fill pile makes up about 5.54 acres of the larger 124-acre parcel, that includes several other town operations. The successful bidder will be required to segregate and remove about 1,600 cubic yards of contaminated fill. It’s been estimated at one point there was about 100,000 cubic yards total at the site, which has been in operation for four decades. Prior to Julian, the fill pile was operated by Datin Bros., Inc., of Westport.
The removal bid request states that “time is of the essence,” and the removal contract will last for 45 days.
The bid documents state that the fill pile is “impacted” with PCBs, petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, and lead in concentrations that exceed state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection remediation standard regulations. The PCB-contaminated soil does not fall under the Toxic Substance Control Act regulations.
Before beginning work, the contractor must secure any necessary permits. The contaminated material will have to be put into trucks or roll-offs that can be covered, and taken to pre-approved facilities for disposal. The contractor will not be required to backfill the area that is cleared of contaminated material.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau told neighbors at a previous meeting that the contaminated material is Julian’s responsibility and the town will take legal action, if necessary, to recoup the costs of remediation. Julian was required to post a $50,000 performance bond for the duration of the contract, but Town Attorney Stanton Lesser said he does not believe the town will be able to use that bond to pay for remediation. A follow-up request as to why the bond could not be used was not answered.
Over last summer, Julian had agreed to pay for a berm and landscaping to screen the pile from neighbors. However, now that Julian is no longer involved, the town has said it will take on that cost. Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo said about 30,000 cubic yards will be used from the pile to construct the berm.
While the contract was in effect, Julian paid the town a fee of $3,000 per year, and the town purchased any fill it needed at a lower-than-market rate. Town officials estimated the ability to purchase fill from Julian at a discounted rate saved about $124,393 over the three years.