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Town Conducts More Soil Tests at Greenwich High

GREENWICH, Conn. – Cleanup of contaminated soil at Greenwich High School has been completed, and secondary, widespread testing is now under way, the district reported last week.

The testing, which is being referred to as Phase II, began Dec. 27 and finished New Year’s weekend, taking advantage of the school’s winter break. More than 100 soil samples, as well as surface water, sediment and groundwater testing was taken.

“A given sample is tested for multiple things, they will go through that process and give it to us as a draft,” said Amy Siebert, commissioner of the town’s Department of Public Works. “What we’re trying to do is take this information and hopefully this well help us come up with a better conceptual model for the site and further refine a cost range of what we’re faced with.”

The town’s consultant, AECOM, will verify and evaluate the test results, which are expected in the next few weeks, said Siebert.

When workers began excavating parking lots for Greenwich High School’s auditorium project, known as MISA, they discovered soil that was darker than dirt found in July in the school’s West Lot.

Immediate environmental tests began on the soil. Low levels of lead, arsenic, barium, volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls and petroleum hydrocarbons were found.

Athletic fields were closed, forcing high school teams to practice on middle school and elementary school fields. All work was stopped on the project, and the area where the contaminated soil was found was covered and closed off.

Artificial turf fields 3 and 4 as well as grass field 2 have been cleared but remain closed to the public until the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection gives the go-ahead to reopen. Two other fields reopened in October, and Cardinal Stadium has been open since August.

Additional testing, under artificial turf fields, will be done over the summer. “We need to get under the artificial turf field, and the weather right now is not conducive to this,” said Siebert. “We need to have the right temperatures to repair the fields after the test. It’s also pretty hard to do that during sports activities.”

A time frame for the project will be easier to forecast once the summer tests are completed, and after the town knows the extent and types of contamination on the site and what needs to be done to remove and restore the area, she said.

Cost estimates will continue to be reviewed and refined throughout the testing phases. The district’s 2012-13 capital budget includes $600,000 to remove contaminated soil. Public Works plans to update the Board of Estimate and Taxation by late winter or early spring to provide a cost estimate. The department has put together a 2012-13 funding request for $1.5 million for additional investigation and to prepare for remediation efforts moving forward.

Construction procedures will be developed for the MISA project once environmental studies are completed. Further testing should have a limited impact on the project.

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