Contamination demands drastic action

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

News coverage of MISA since the illegal executive session of BOE/BET/BOS (followed strangely by a “press conference”) gives the mistaken view that there is an actual choice in remediation. This is false.

The town and its hired contractors put highly toxic concentrations of PCBs into the wetlands that are used as athletic fields and parking lots. Town taxpayers find themselves now on the hook to pay for the full removal and remediation of all 42 acres and any neighboring properties affected.

The only option is abandonment of the site and encapsulation of the contamination, re-establishing the 10-acre swamp as open space (that’s its actual place name as mapped in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development). The added cost to abandonment would be conversion of other open space to a new high school site, which is about the same order of magnitude in cost.

The consultant’s report gave a range of costs that did not establish a menu of choices for the taxpayers in the long run to remediate down to 1 part PCBs per million. It only gave an idea of how fast the town would dig itself into a wet hole from which it cannot escape, at least in financial consequences. Test reports released last April found 11 hotspots with more than 500 parts per million and 18 others with more than 50 ppm. That’s a lot of PCBs.

Unlike the lighter Hudson River PCBs, which had to be transported to Texas, these Arochlor 1260 molecules found at GHS are the heavier, more dangerous type found in pre-1930s electrical power systems.

Speaking as a GHS parent and grandparent, the next shovel in the ground for MISA will initiate a cascading escalation of costs for tax-payers that cannot be turned off. But we do have the option to stop before this madness starts, and weigh the only alternative — a new Greenwich High School.

 

Michael Finkbeiner
Greenwich

The author has practiced environmental and land use consulting in Greenwich since 1974.

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