Town presents solutions to contaminated grounds at GHS

Contaminated grounds at Greenwich High School have been a community concern since 2011 and at a special meeting addressing the issue Wednesday night, town and regulatory officials finally presented various solutions to the problem.

Gathering at Central Middle School, Superintendent of Schools William McKersie, Greenwich Commissioner of Public Works Amy Siebert, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty and several officials from AECOM, an outside firm brought in by the town for this project, offered the community an open house and formal presentation in order to openly discuss the results of tests and risk assessments performed on GHS fields, along with options for remediation.

AECOM employee Malcolm Beeler assured those in attendance that a comprehensive environmental study of the GHS site was conducted before officials began to contemplate options for contamination removal.

“We’re not just dealing with one corner or another, we’ve looked at the entire site,” Mr. Beeler said.

Options for remediation introduced at Wednesday’s presentation included removal to the strictest standard and self-implementing remediation, each of which would require extensive excavation of the site and could cost up to $180 million and several years to carry out. Also presented were risk-based remedial options, which aim to reduce health risks to site users and take into account current and future use of the grounds while maintaining reasonable cost and production time.

Based on current knowledge and conditions, AECOM recommends that the town choose the option that would address limited risk concerns to identified site users and would eliminate certain site restrictions that are currently in place, meaning routine activities and limited future work on the site could be performed without the current constraints. The option includes excavation of the site at varying depths, depending on what different areas on the site are currently and would potentially be used for. For example, Mr. Beeler said, areas where utilities might be installed in the future would be excavated to three feet rather than one foot to assure that such an installation could be done safely.

The option would allow the town to greatly reduce potential health risks on the fields and leave in place only reasonable site restrictions, allowing for routine work to be performed, Mr. Beeler said. The process would take place over approximately two GHS summer breaks and would cost between $13 and $20 million, he said.

In preliminary discussions with environmental regulatory agencies such as the Connecticut Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulators indicated to AECOM that risk-based option number three could be acceptable and that they would be willing to discuss the option seriously, Mr. Beeler said. The more dramatic options, such as removal to the strictest standard, would have a major impact on the larger Greenwich community, he said. With significant removal of soil, he said, there would be approximately 60 trucks per day going on and off of the GHS site and, accordingly, driving through the town five days per week. AECOM’s recommended option carries a shorter time frame and less community impact while maintaining a reasonable price tag, Mr. Beeler said.

“We consider it to be a cost effective effort for the amount of risk reduction that you get,” he said.

Additionally, Mr. Beeler said, the option includes maintenance of the site. Once the fields are treated, they will need to be maintained in order to remain effective, so the option ensures that the grounds and surface water on the site would continue to be inspected and monitored to verify that contamination impacts are not migrating off site.

For a full report on the presentation, remedial options and the results of a community question and answer session on the topic, see the March 14 edition of the Post and return to next week for more details.


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