State DPH endorses remediation at 8 Fairfield sites

The state endorsed the remediation of Gould Manor Park, along with seven other town sites previously found to be contaminated.

The state endorsed the remediation of Gould Manor Park, along with seven other town sites previously found to be contaminated.

Rachel Scharf / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — The state Department of Health has said eight of the 10 town sites identified as contaminated from questionable fill should undergo remediation.

At the town’s request, the Department of Health created a specialized set of recreational standards to evaluate exposure risks at Fairfield’s parks and fields.

Joseph Michelangelo, who served as the town’s public works director since 2012, is accused of conspiring with Scott Bartlett, the town’s superintendent of public works and Jason Julian, co-owner of Julian Enterprises, to allow Julian’s company to dump truck loads of contaminated waste onto property adjacent to the town’s public works garage.

Julian Enterprises resold some of the soil that was loaded with lead and PCBs as clean fill for construction projects in the town. Cleanup is estimated as costing millions of dollars.

The three, who are awaiting trial, have pleaded not guilty to illegal dumping and kickback charges. A judge Friday, against objections from Hearst Connecticut Media, sealed documents related to the investigation for another 30 days after a prosecutor said the case is still an ongoing investigation.

Using the new standards, the state found that land at Jennings, McKinley, Holland Hill, Mill Hill and Stratfield schools and Jennings Beach, Gould Manor Park and Old Dam Road should be cleaned up. Sites at Dwight and Ludlowe did not need remediation.

The state said cleanup can mean either covering or excavating the affected areas.

The locations were flagged in tests of 60 sites at local parks and fields that used fill from the town’s contaminated Public Works pile between 2013 and 2016, when it was managed by Julian Enterprises.

The site was shut down in 2016.

Normally, the state has two criteria to evaluate exposure risk from contaminants: residential standards and industrial/commercial standards. While Fairfield had been using the residential direct exposure criteria (RDEC) to evaluate remediation needs, the type and amount of exposure at parks, fields and playgrounds fall somewhere in between residential and industrial standards.

The specialized recreational standards serve as an alternative measure that more closely aligns with the sites in question, the state said.

DPH used the processes established in the state’s Remediation Standard Regulations to make decisions based on recreational exposures which assume children have direct contact with soil while playing.

The criteria, they said, aim to “protect human health and the environment from cancer and non-cancer risks associated with direct exposure to polluted soil.”

DPH used the new criteria to re-evaluate the 10 town sites that had been found with higher levels of contaminants than the RDEC guidelines.

Jennings, McKinley, Holland Hill, Jennings Beach and Gould Manor Park were all found to have levels of arsenic exceeding the new recreational criteria.

Mill Hill and Stratfield exceeded the recreational standard of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and the tennis facility at Old Dam Road had an a higher level of PCBs than the standards allow.

Neither Dwight nor Ludlowe had any contaminants over the recreational standards.

The state recommended that the town limit the potential for contact with contaminated sites. Remediation, they said, could mean capping the area with clean soil, mulch, fabric or rubber matting, or excavating and replacing the affected soil.

The town began cleaning up Gould Manor Park last week and said it would Burroughs Soccer Field and Jennings Elementary School’s playgrounds were next on the list.

According to the Gould Manor Park’s remedial action plan, contractors will dig up the contaminated soil and replace it with clean fill.

The town said each site’s remediation plan will differ depending on the type and amount of material to be removed.

The town also announced that next week it will begin testing the 21 supplemental sites identified as needing additional assessment because they used fill from the Public Works pile.