State visits fill pile as Fairfield cleanup projects begin
FAIRFIELD — As the town continues to test and clean up fields affected by the contaminated fill pile, the state appears to be building its case against those convicted of illegal dumping there.
According to First Selectman Mike Tetreau, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) informed him that they would be visiting the Public Works pile and performing additional tests of the material there on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Although Tetreau was not present at the site, he said that, to his knowledge, DEEP did not end up running tests, but that representatives from the office of the state’s attorney came to examine the site Wednesday.
“It sounded like they wanted to see the pile,” Tetreau said. “I’m not 100 percent clear on their purpose.”
Mark Dupuis, the communications representative for the chief state’s attorney, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation. A representative from DEEP had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
The state is building a case against two town employees and the co-owner of Julian Enterprises, all of whom have pleaded not guilty to municipal corruption charges.
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 to allow the company to dump truck loads of contaminated waste into the pile.
Julian then resold some of the contaminated soil as clean fill for construction projects in the town. After testing 60 sites at parks, fields and playgrounds, the town identified eight areas that need to be cleaned up.
The town is now beginning to get rid of those contaminated materials, a process expected to cost millions.
Cleanup is underway at Gould Manor Park, ridding the area of arsenic, lead and asbestos discovered there in August. The town said all the contaminated material has been removed, and they are now in the process of collecting soil samples to confirm cleanliness before they begin replacing it with new fill.
The work there is taking longer than the originally estimated 10 days, due to rain and high winds that have stopped work.
Air sampling taken during the process has shown that asbestos levels in the air are well below the clearance threshold, according to Health Director Sands Cleary.
Work is set to begin the week of Nov. 11 and be completed by the end of the month, depending on weather conditions.
Cleanup there will follow a similar procedure to Gould Manor Park, with contaminated soil removed and disposed of at a facility in Minerva, N.Y. After taking confirmatory soil samples, the area will be refilled with clean soil.
Work at Jennings Elementary School’s playgrounds will follow, dealing with high levels of arsenic found in their pressure-treated wood framings. While the town had originally planned to remove the framings completely, they recently determined that this is not possible due to the structure of the area.
The town is now collecting additional samples to determine an alternative plan for cleanup, which they said will occur outside of school hours and be coordinated with the district.
Plans are also in the works for cleanup at Mill Hill Elementary School, Jennings Beach Playground and Old Dam Road to remove soil contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), arsenic and PCBs, respectively.
The town also announced that they have collected samples from the following sites on the town’s supplemental fill use list: Coral Drive, High Ridge Road, Osborn Hill School, Ronald Drive, Stratfield Road and Sunset Avenue. Results, they said, will be posted once available.