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Thursday, December 12 News

Cleanup needed at Osborn Hill School in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — Tests have uncovered three more contaminated sites connected to the town’s Public Works pile.

The town announced on Nov. 26 that contaminants had been discovered at Osborn Hill Elementary School, Stratfield Road and Sunset Avenue. Cleanup will be required at Osborn Hill, but the town is still working to determine how best to handle the two other sites.

Seven other contaminated town sites had previously been identified by tests. Cleanup was completed this week at Burroughs Park, and work is ongoing at Gould Manor Park and Jennings Elementary School.

Testing at fields and parks across Fairfield began after it was found that fill from a contaminated Public Works pile had been used during town construction projects under the management of Julian Enterprises.

The fill pile linked to Julian Enterprises has become the subject of a criminal case, where the state has charged two town employees and Julian’s co-owner with illegal dumping and municipal corruption.

Osborn Hill was a focus of the most recent round of testing after concerns arose that fill from the Julian pile had potentially been used in more than one project at the school - on both its ballfield and parking lot.

No contaminants above residential standards were found on the ballfield. The area by the southern parking lot, however, contained polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 22 of 26 samples.

It is still unclear whether the parking lot area’s contamination came from Julian fill, which was used in a 2013 catch basin repair there, or asphalt millings from the parking lot itself spread to the nearby grass during construction.

“The finding of PAHs in the soil is consistent with the presence of asphalt, but does not necessarily indicate the specific source,” Health Director Sands Cleary told Hearst Connecticut Media.

The town is now in the process of developing a remediation plan. Protective mats have been placed over the contaminated areas in the meantime.

“The safety of our students, staff and community remains our highest priority,” Superintendent of Schools Mike Cummings wrote in an email to Osborn Hill parents Tuesday.

In the site’s test report, Cleary emphasized that exposure to the area does not pose any immediate danger, given the grass covering and limited contact there.

“In the absence of frequent and ongoing contact, there is very low potential for exposure and no concern for health risks,” Cleary wrote.

The two other contaminated sites on Stratfield Road and Sunset Avenue, meanwhile, are still being evaluated for cleanup.

PAHs were found in all five samples on Stratfield Road, where the town said Julian fill may have been used for a fallen tree and sidewalk repair project.

Arsenic was detected in two of the 23 samples collected on Sunset Avenue. Julian fill may have been used there for a curb installation.

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The town is currently working with licensed environmental professional Tighe & Bond to determine how best to address the contamination at these two sites.

This most recent round of tests also cleared three other areas of concern on Coral Drive, High Ridge Road and Ronald Drive. This was part of the town’s ongoing testing of 21 supplemental sites that used fill from the Julian pile.

Readers can follow cleanup progress via Hearst Connecticut Media’s breakdown and map of sites.

rscharf@hearstmediact.com

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