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District Hopeful for Western M.S. Fields to Partially Reopen

By Richard Kaufman
Sentinel Reporter

While environmental testing of the Western Middle School fields remains ongoing, the school district is anticipating a partial reopening of the WMS fields which have been closed for nearly a year.

Testing on soil samples at the fields conducted over the summer of 2016 indicated levels of constituents that exceeded the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection residential direct exposure criteria in some areas.

At the time, the initial testing did not detect concentrations of the constituents exceeding federal or state thresholds which would require immediate action, but based on the results and after consultation with the town and state departments of public health, the WMS fields were closed as a precautionary measure.

Additional testing began this past June. According to a statement released by the Greenwich Public Schools, “Delineation of the contaminated soil has been completed for one of three grid areas with PCB impacted soil (SS-28). Initial results of the other two grid areas (SS-31 and SS-37) indicate additional findings of PCB’s at concentrations above the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)  threshold of 50 mg/kg.”

The school district hasn’t received a final report on the summer testing from Langan, the company in charge of testing, site assessment and remediation.

But based on ongoing analysis in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, CT-DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, a portion of the WMS fields will be re-opened pending the submission to and review of site safety and control measures by the regulatory agencies.

The partial reopening would allow for physical education and intramural programs to resume on the site. Closure of the fields made the scheduling of town and school events difficult, and also caused some events to spill over to other locations which backed up field activity.

Superintendent of schools, Dr. Jill Gildea, said the school district is looking forward to the partial field reopening.

“”We will continue to work diligently with the Town’s environmental consultants, and the State and Federal regulatory agencies to ensure safe partial use and ongoing remediation of the Western Middle School site,” she said. “We are looking forward to resuming the physical education program’s outdoor activities with the anticipated partial opening of the Western Middle School fields for the 2017-2018 school year.”

Once all the data is collected, Langan will prepare a remediation plan for review and approval. According to the statement released by the Greenwich Public Schools, the remediation plan will include:

“Development and execution of action plans for the protection of students, faculty, on-site workers, community, and the environment during soil disturbance activities; excavation and off-site disposal of impacted soils; placement of a highly visible demarcation barrier (e.g. orange snow fencing) between residual site material and imported certified clean backfill material; and Backfilling of remedial excavation areas to grade with imported certified clean fill.”

The time frame for approval of the plan is based on the review schedules of USEPA and CT-DEEP.

The school district said they’ll continue to provide updates to the community as new results and information become available.

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