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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

More Testing Expected at Greenwich High Fields

GREENWICH, Conn. – Three fields at Greenwich High School remain closed and yet another round of soil and water testing is planned for the February vacation, the district announced this week. During the holiday break, nearly 90 samples were taken.

The district is hoping to receive approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to have unrestricted use of all fields at the high school by March.

The problem started 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, and the contaminated area was covered and closed off.

So far 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.

Over the holiday break, 150 soil samples, 30 sediment samples and seven surface water samples were taken and analyzed by a state certified lab. The results are being reviewed but have not been released to the public. Four groundwater monitoring wells were also installed.

"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," Amy Siebert, commissioner of the town's Department of Public Works, said in December.

Testing will continue from Feb. 13 to Feb. 20. Once findings are complete, cost estimates will be made of the potential costs and schedule to get the soil back to normal. 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 with 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.

Additional testing under artificial turf fields will be done over the summer. The project's time frame will be easier to forecast once all tests are completed and after the town knows the extent and types of contamination and what needs to be done to restore the area, she said.

"We need to get under the artificial turf field, and the weather right now is not conducive to this," Siebert said in a previous interview.

As for the school's music and auditorium project, an environmental study has been completed and the findings have been reviewed with the MISA Building Committee but not yet released. However, the district assures an action plan will be made to rectify the area within the MISA project area. This plan includes excavation, transportation and off-site disposal of some of the contaminated soil. Further testing should no longer impact the project, the district said.

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