Remediation required at two new Fairfield playscapes

Jennings' playscape remains closed for remediation, along with McKinley.

Jennings’ playscape remains closed for remediation, along with McKinley.

Rachel Scharf / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Test results found contaminants at five town playscapes, but only two will require remediation.

Schools Superintendent Mike Cummings announced Thursday that remediation will be necesary at McKinley and Jennings. Contaminants were also found at Dwight, Stratfield and Holland Hill, but experts say the playscapes’ mulch covering means no health hazards are posed.

Cummings said it is believed that the current levels are evidence of past playground equipment, such as pressure treated timbers and tires used for climbing play. The district does not believe it came from the Public Works fill pile that has been the subject of the town’s testing.

“From all we know, there was no fill from the pile used on these sites,” Cummings said.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) above the residential direct exposure criteria were found at Dwight and Stratfield, and arsenic exceedances were found at Holland Hill.

State Department of Health representative Meg Harvey said that Dwight and Stratfield were safe to reopen immediately, given the mulch and rubber matting provide a sufficient barrier from contact.

“Provided that the mulch layer is maintained at least a foot thick, it should continue to prevent children from coming in contact with soil on a frequent and ongoing basis,” Harvey wrote. “Without frequent and ongoing contact with the soil, there are no exposures that would pose a public health concern.”

For Holland Hill, Harvey recommended additional mulch and matting be added to increase the barrier’s thickness.

“A mulch layer should be increased to at least one foot in all areas to provide a sufficient barrier from direct contact with soil,” advised Harvey.

The town proceeded with this work on Holland Hill Thursday and plans to reopen the playscape Friday.

McKinley and Jennings remain closed while the district develops a remediation plan. Exceedances in arsenic and PAHs were found at McKinley, and arsenic was found at the playscape to the right of Jennings. The district is still waiting on the test results for the playscape to the left of Jennings.

“We have and will continue to make our decisions based on the safety and security of children,” wrote Cummings in an email to parents. “We use the guidance of experts like Ms. Harvey to make those determinations.”

The Fairfield Citizen’s interactive map has been updated with this new information.