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Sunday, September 22 News

Seven more Fairfield school fields cleared for use

FAIRFIELD — Soil testing has cleared seven additional school fields for use.

Superintendent Mike Cummings announced at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting that results have come back, clearing the additional fields tested by the district: North Stratfield, Stratfield, Roger Sherman, Osborn Hill, Roger Ludlowe, Ludlowe and Warde.

These fields were not on the town’s original list of sites potentially affected by the Julian-managed fill pile. The district decided to test them independently, along with all school playscapes, out of an abundance of caution.

Cummings said the fields will be reopened as soon as possible.

While the town’s testing was aimed specifically at detecting areas of concern from the fill pile, the district tested for a full array of materials. As such, these tests did indicate the presence of decades-old pesticides buried in the fields.

Cummings said the materials found were pesticides that haven’t been legal in 40 to 50 years, such as DDT, that are left over from historical use - unrelated to fill pile concerns.

“This is the legacy of those decisions made all those years ago,” Cummings explained. “The sins of our fathers, so to say.”

Meg Harvey from the state Department of Health confirmed that there are no health or safety concerns regarding human contact with these pesticides, because they are buried deeply within the soil. While they would pose concern for leakage into wells, there are no wells around these areas.

Health Department Director Sands Cleary also announced that as of Tuesday, the town identified two more sites where fill from the Public Works pile was used: the parking area at Tomlinson, and the third-base side of Osborn Hill’s baseball fields.

Cummings said the site at Tomlinson is not an exposure risk because it is under a paved area. The Osborn Hill site, which used fill from the pile during drainage work in 2016, is off to the side of the field. The baseball field will remain closed until that specific area is assessed and cordoned off, but other parts of the field will be reopened.

The district said results from testing of all school playscapes should arrive by the end of this week.

First Selectman Mike Tetreau said these test results confirm the message he’s been sending out - that the town’s fields are completely safe for use, despite some remediation being planned out of an abundance of caution.

“All the test results coming out confirm our fields are safe and have been safe,” Tetreau said.

The extent of the testing that’s taken place, Tetreau said, goes above and beyond the norm.

“We’re at the point now where Fairfield fields are the most tested in the state of Connecticut,” he said.

The Board commended the Fairfield Pubic School staff for their diligent work ensuring the safety of students.

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“I want to applaud Mr. Cummings and the building administrators,” said Board Vice-Chair Nicholas Aysseh. “I think this was a very worthwhile endeavor.”

The Fairfield Citizen’s interactive map has been updated to reflect current site testing statuses.

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