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Contaminants Found in Greenwich High Groundwater

GREENWICH, Conn. – All athletic fields remain open at Greenwich High School, but recent testing of groundwater on the site found contamination, according to a report issued by the Board of Education.

During the school’s February break, 10 groundwater and 50 soil samples were collected in and around the athletic fields. The survey was conducted to determine whether any of the homes within 500 feet of the site get water from groundwater wells.

Although environmental studies done during the December break found no new areas of contamination, officials decided in March that more testing was needed to determine the extent of the chemicals contamination.

Chemicals associated with the site, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were not found in the new wells installed around the perimeter of the site, but some metals such as barium and zinc were detected. The concentration of the metals was below regulatory standards.

“This is good news, in that it appears the impacts to groundwater are localized to the central portion of the site,” said a statement from the school board. At this time, no expanded cleanup plans are being made.

In July, workers excavating parking lots for the school’s auditorium project, known as MISA, discovered soil that was darker than other dirt. Immediate environmental tests began on the soil. Low levels of lead, arsenic, barium, volatile organic compounds, PCBs 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, and the contaminated area was covered and closed off.

All athletic fields at the school opened in March after smaller areas of the field were excavated. Other contaminated areas of the field remain isolated with fencing.

In the most central portion of the site between Field 3 and the west parking lot, the highest concentrations of PCBs was found in groundwater during the December sampling. The February sampling at a well on this spot also detected PCBs. Other organic chemicals were found “sporadically” in wells located in the central site.

In the report, the town public works department said it would continue monitoring to better define the impact of the contamination. During the April break, another 49 soil borings were completed around the fields and additional groundwater samples were collected.

“We still need to sample under fields 3, 4, 6, and 7 to have a more complete understanding of overall site conditions,” said the statement. The fields are artificial turf. AECOM, a consulting company brought in, cannot take samples there until it is warm so the turf carpet can be repaired. In addition, the department did not want to interrupt spring sports.

“We can’t get under some of these fields until June, and we won’t have information until late summer," Amy Siebert, commissioner of the public works department, said last month. "The goal is to have a better understanding of what we’d like to do out there, then find out how much that might [cost].”

In the coming months, the public works department plans to evaluate results from the April sampling, prepare for additional sampling programs in June and July, and beginning a feasibility study to determine cleanup alternatives for the site. This study will include an estimate of the overall cost for the cleanup, which is due to be finished by late fall.

The district's 2012-13 capital budget includes $600,000 to remove contaminated soil. The public works department has put together a 2012-13 funding request for $1.5 million for additional investigation and to prepare for remediation efforts.

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