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Group Seeks Environmental Repairs at Holly Hill

GREENWICH, Conn. - A Greenwich environmental group says dangerous levels of lead from the town’s recycling center are contaminating Tom’s Brook and flowing through Armstrong Court and into Byram Harbor.

The Inland Wetlands Watercourses Agency approved a 12-million dollar re-configuration plan for recycling at Holly Hill Monday night, but the group says the plan does not address the immediate need for repairs to the sedimentation trap at the downstream end of the facility.

The Planning & Zoning Board will host a public hearing Tuesday night on the plan.

Soil tests and certified lab analysis along Tom's Brook, reported to Wetlands Agency by Michael Finkbeiner, senior environmental analyst for the Byram River Park System, found levels of lead and chromium metals indicating that incinerator ash stored at Holly Hill flows into Byram Harbor.

The recycling facility was built on the site of a rock quarry that became a town incinerator. Large amounts of ash are stored on an embankment along Tom’s Brook without “proper installation of erosion control or bank stabilization,” Finkbeiner says.

Rainwater that runs through the ash pile discharges from drainage pipes into Tom’s Brook, which runs along the Armstrong Court playground area and into Byram Harbor and beach. Finkbeiner says heavy metals such as lead and chromium pass through because there is no water quality treatment at the end of the pipes.

“Since metals attach themselves to sediment particles, and these particles flow downstream … it is logical that a similar ‘fingerprint’ of metal contamination exists along the way,” Finkbeiner wrote in a report released Jan. 20.

The Byram River Park System says it would be possible to put a filter in place in the 200 feet of Tom's Brook between Holly Hill and the Armstrong Court playground area, Finkbeiner says.

“Exposure levels for children and adults for contact to these sediments require remediation,” wrote Finkbeiner. The first priority should be on-site control of heavy metal toxins before the six phases of the Holly Hill project move forward, he said.

Byram River Parks Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, has proposed applying for an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Justice grant to test and provide a scientific basis for the town to remedy the contamination.

The new plan to renovate Holly Hill includes a drainage system to improve the quality of water that discharges from the site. In addition, the project proposes rehabilitating a sedimentation basin back to its original conditions by removing eight feet of sediment.

The project would be done in phases, said Jim Michel, a town engineer. Most projects can be implemented independent of one another, depending on when the town can pay for each.

The Department of Public Works is requesting funds from the town for the first three phases of a six-phase project for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The Board of Selectmen voted to move forward with the project in December.

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