The town will be responsible for removing 7,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil left after a 1980 oil spill at DePaolo Middle School that was not properly addressed and costs are expected to be around $100,000, not including additional soil to fill the vacant land left behind, officials with Newfield Construction told the Middle School Building Committee Tuesday.
But the news gets worse. The town is also facing an expensive remediation project for levels of dormant Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCBs, exceeding 50 mg/kg at both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle School that requires federal Environmental Protection Agency oversight – and those costs won’t be known until Nov. 6.
Thomas DiMauro, construction manager and project executive for Newfield Construction of Hartford, said a report completed over the past two weekends by Hygenix, Inc., revealed that in six soil samples and two water samples collected from the school, there was still significant contamination.
No soil contamination was revealed at Kennedy Middle School.
“There is approximately 700 cubic yards (of soil) at DePaolo that needs to be addressed and an estimated $100,000 impact to remove the soils and some groundwater contaminated with oil when the town takes the tank out,” DiMauro said. “There is an estimated $21,000 impact to fill the hole once this is complete.”
The oil remediation will be completed in summer 2014.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Members of the Middle School Building Committee are facing tough decisions in the project, which has seen growing remediation costs , conducted an environmental remediation study in August.
Shortly after the oil contamination was discovered, environmental hygienists with Hygenix also discovered that PCB levels at both schools, but particularly at Kennedy, contained levels exceeding 50 mg/kg, well above initial findings of approximately 5 mg/kg in simple tests conducted in 2011 for a middle school feasibility study.
The schools, however, are not a risk right now as air quality tests revealed zero air contamination.
“It’s frustrating that it’s taking this long, but we are still on our timeline as far as the project is concerned,” said Edward Pocock Jr., building committee chairman. “Hygenix has been professional, but 255 samples is an awful lot of data to analyze. What they find in one window could be different than what is found in another.”
Multiple elected officials have said the costs are expected to be "in the millions," well above , but those costs depend on the findings.
Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback, who this week announced that the town could also save millions in initial costs associated with phosphorus removal from the Quinnipiac River, has been in contact with personnel from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a response from Macky McCleary, Deputy Commissioner of the DEEP was telling of the challenges that the committee is facing.
In a letter to Brumback, which was read into the record during Tuesday’s building committee meeting, McCleary said PCB contamination is common among schools that were built between 1950 and 1978.
“Southington is not alone in this respect...PCBs have been detected in caulk in buildings, including schools, with concentrations ranging from as low as 50 ppm to as high as 300,000 ppm. In some cases, PCBs were used in caulk with a concentration as high as 30 (percent),” the letter details.
“Be certain that while this falls within EPA's jurisdiction, you and I have developed an excellent working relationship and I am willing to do anything I can to help you through this,” McCleary wrote.
“I am confident that with the proper investment of funds and time you can navigate the complicated requirements and reach an endpoint that both satisfies EPA's regulatory requirements and is protective of the students in Southington.”
Although costs won't be known until Nov. 6, Pocock said the building committee is already working to plan ahead and adjust accordingly to meet the unexpected financial costs, whatever they may be. He said as always, safety of students, staff and parents will remain the top priority.
"We will continue to be open about everything and we are not going to do anything that will risk safety or compromise the quality of this project," he said.
Make sure to like Southington Patch on Facebook and follow on Twitter for breaking news, daily updates and more!