Friday, August 19, 2011
Massive Soil Cleanup Planned at Bridgewater
By James Lomuscio
Westport hedge fund Bridgewater Associates has applied to the state and the town to begin a massive clean up of contaminated soil left by a previous occupant at its 25 Ford Road headquarters site straddling both sides of the Saugatuck River.
Town officials said Bridgewater’s cleanup application will be reviewed beginning next month. A sign notifies passersby of the work. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Much of the heavy metal soil contamination was caused by coal ash used to fill in wetlands years ago and by waste products left behind by Dorr-Oliver, Inc. of Milford, state officials said. Town officials estimated the clean up could cost several million dollars.
Dorr-Oliver had occupied the 5.89-acre site for 18 years, according to Maurice Hammel, remediation director of the Bureau of Water Protection and Land Resources for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
Bridgewater Associates did not respond to requests for an interview. But David Fiereck of Loureiro Engineering Associates of Plainville, who submitted the application for Bridgewater, stressed the chemicals left behind pose “no immediate danger, but do not meet the state threshold.”
“The remediation standard regulations are very specific,” said Fiereck.
“In some cases it’s probably buried waste materials left prior to the advent of environmental regulations. And there are some heavy metals, arsenic, lead, and semi-volatile organic compounds, the kinds of contaminants you’d find in asphalt.”
Loureiro Engineering is scheduled to go before Westport’s Flood and Erosion Control Board on Sept. 7 and the Conservation Commission on Sept. 21, according to Alicia Mozian, director of the Conservation Department.
“It’s a good thing that they’re going to remove that contaminated soil,” Mozian said.
Noting that the area is at the confluence of the Aspetuck River and the Saugatuck River’s east and west branches, Mozian said her office has contacted Brian Roach of the Aquarion Water Co. for input at the Sept. 7 meeting.
According to the application, the site had been used for manufacturing since 1812 when it housed a grist mill and later a textile mill. Dorr-Oliver, a manufacturer of pumps and machinery to separate precious metals from sludge, operated there from 1937 to 1965.
From 1967 to 1985, Embalmer’s Supply Co., a manufacturer of embalming fluids, owned and operated at the site.
“It wasn’t related to the embalming business, but the historic use of the property,” Hammel stressed about the need for the cleanup.
“At the turn of the century a lot of wetlands were filled with clean fill, coal ash. It was the type of thing your grandfather would throw in the backyard when he heated the house with coal.”
What has been left behind, he said, “are heavy metals and some other chemicals from incomplete combustion that aren’t completely healthful, but not especially toxic substances.”
Because of that, Hammel said, DEEP is allowing Loureiro to cap and not have to remove all of the contaminated soil.
According to Fiereck, remediation will involved removing and replacing one to two feet of dirt and applying a high-density polyethylene liner before uncontaminated soil is laid down.
Paved areas will also be dug up to one foot before being covered and resurfaced. Unpaved areas will be dug out to two feet, he said, before a liner and new soil is put down.
Hammel said the capping at one to two feet will suffice, though the contaminated soil “goes a lot deeper than that.”
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport