But good news: we have clearance to take some of the arsenic away.
Soil remediation at Greenwich High School could take as long as four years instead of two, Public Works officials say, following a state agency’s announcement that it will not approve plans to remove PCBs from the ground in time for work to begin this summer. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is, however, expected to approve plans for arsenic removal on the site’s south side early next week.
“This means instead of a 2-3 year project, we have a 3-4 year project,” Public Works Commissioner Amy Siebert in an email to Greenwich Time.
Construction crews first discovered PCBs and other contaminants in July 2011, shortly after beginning work on the high school’s $44 million musical instruction and auditorium complex. Once the town adopted a remediation plan, a start date of July 2014 was set.
However, technical and regulatory complications will prevent the bulk of the plan from going forward along that timeline, said Peter Hill, supervising environmental analyst with the DEEP remediation division.
While arsenic removal remains slated to go forward this summer, it is only a minor part of the overall remediation effort, with PCBs playing a much larger role. The chemical’s presence is restricted to the southern portion of the high school campus, separate from PCB-affected areas.
Hill said the review of the plan has taken into account a large number of factors — both the pollution conditions and the town’s handling of them — in hopes of ensuring the viability and effectiveness of remediation.
“We evaluate the project document, including the remedial action plan, the investigation, the feasibility study and any other pertinent information [emphasis added] to determine if the investigation is complete and if the remedy is protective of human health,” said Hill. “The goal is to ensure that the school will be safe.”
DEEP analysts aim to approve the remainder of the clean-up plan by this time next year.
“We hope that the outstanding details can be resolved this year so remediation can continue in the summer of 2015,” he said. “We are working with the town and the EPA to work toward this goal.”
Brave faces all around
BET officials said they don’t expect the long-term construction costs of the project to change drastically due to the elongated timeline.
[BET Chairman Michael] Mason said the reallocation of funds would not likely have a significant impact on the town’s proposed $396 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The DPW had projected a $6 million request for remediation in 2015-16, a number now liable to increase.
[E]ven with the hampered progress, officials are optimistic. Some had worried that the DEEP would not approve any part of the remediation plan in time to include adequate funds in this year’s budget, stopping the project in its tracks. Now, any progress is good progress.
“If we can at least get started on the south side, that will help keep things moving,” said Siebert.
“It’s a positive for the town that the project will be proceeding this summer, if only on a reduced level,”said Leslie Tarkington, BET liaison to the MISA building committee.
Brace yourself, Bridget, there’s a shit storm coming, to the tune of a billion or so.
* Not a single one of our town leaders had the balls to show up for the official ground breaking ceremony last year, when construction resumed after a two-year hiatus for the soil remediation to be “completed” – they knew to stay away.
[July 13, 2013] On Monday, a row of hard hats perched atop gleaming shovels lay against a trailer near the construction site, props that would ostensibly be used during a groundbreaking ceremony. But no one claimed them for grinning photo-ops. Instead, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty ventured out at midday as the sole town official to pay a brief site visit.
All of this is exactly as predicted by the Lovable Whack Job, Bill Efros, and FWIW’s official geologist, Michael Finkbeiner.