PCBs, lead found at fill pile
FAIRFIELD — Low amounts of lead and PCBs found at the fill pile on Richard White Way shut down anything going in and out of the site, including trucks and equipment belonging to Julian Enterprises.
Julian’s contract with the town to oversee the fill pile expired Dec. 15 and was not renewed. Town Attorney Stanton Lesser said at that point, an environmental professional hired by the town conducted some testing at the pile, which has been in place for decades.
Lesser said the three-year contract with Julian actually ended a few days early — on Dec. 13 — and some site sampling was done.
“The licensed environmental professional discovered a small amount of contamination by lead and PCBs,” Lesser said, adding the levels found were very low, and in at least the case of PCBs, was below the minimum standards. “We immediately shut the site down and called the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. They said don’t let anything off the site.”
That meant Julian’s trucks and equipment were locked up on the property. Julian has a contract with the town to clear school parking lots during snow storms.
“We still need to sample the site,” Lesser said, and until that is done, no more materials will be going in or out of the site.
The Department of Public Works reported Julian was allowed onsite to pick up its trucks on Jan. 18.
The fill pile drew increased scrutiny last year due to complaints from Fairfield Beach Road and Pine Creek residents. The fill pile can be seen from some points on Fairfield Beach Road in the 1300 block area, and from Pine Creek, as well. Neighbors were unhappy with the amount of noise and truck traffic, as well as the aesthetics of the pile itself.
In 2013, the town put out a request for proposals in an effort to reduce the size of the pile. In exchange for paying a $3,000 annual fee, Julian took over the “management” of the fill pile, comprised of crushed rock, asphalt, concrete and dirt, along with the “spoils” from street sweeping and catch basin cleaning.
Julian was allowed to bring in other material to mix with the fill pile, in order to make a saleable product. The town was able to buy useable fill at a discount, saving about $124,000 over the three years.
At one point, the pile contained an estimated 60,000 cubic yards of fill, but town officials admitted that over time, the pile grew larger than it was at the beginning of the contract with Julian. By September, the pile had been reduced by 50,000 tons, according to the town. About 64,000 tons equals 40,000 cubic yards.
When there was still an agreement with Julian in place, the company had said it would build a berm and install landscaping and fencing to shield neighbors from the fill pile. While those plans are still going forward, the cost of the project will be borne by the town, according to First Selectman Mike Tetreau. The project’s cost was not available, but it is expected to include a screening of other town operations on Richard White Way, including the fire training center.
The town has an ongoing need of a place to get rid of its construction debris and road spoils. That means bringing it to the fill pile or paying to dispose of it elsewhere. Officials estimate the town generates about 6,000 tons of spoils a year. To dispose of it elsewhere would cost an estimated $100,000 to $160,000 annually.