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Government shutdown halts progress on fields at Western Middle School

January 21, 2019 GMT

GREENWICH — School officials have no update on the status of the ongoing soil testing on the fields at Western Middle School, and they offer a new reason to cite for delays: the government shutdown.

Greenwich Public Schools last released a statement back in July, after federal and state regulators requested additional soil testing to confirm the depth and width of contamination by PCBs and other materials in the ground at Western Middle School.

“The government shutdown has impacted our ability to meet with the different government agencies who we are going to present plans to,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Ralph Mayo said.

The school district is still trying to coordinate a meeting among the district, Langan — the consulting group leading the project — and the state and federal agencies involved, Chief Operations Officer Lorianne O’Donnell said.

The meeting was supposed to be held this month, but it may be postponed because of the shutdown, Mayo said.


“We have all our results, all of our testing done, we are just waiting to meet with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” Mayo said.

The known contaminated areas are substantially delineated, O’Donnell said in July, but officials wanted more testing conducted this summer to be certain.

Part of Western’s fields reopened for student use in September 2017. But a large portion, including the softball infield, has remained closed and fenced off since August 2016, when high levels of PCBs, arsenic, lead and chlordane were found in the soil.

The highest concentration of PCBs was found in a corner of the field farthest from Western Middle School. One sample taken 3 inches deep in the soil found PCBs in concentrations six times the federal threshold for hazardous waste.

The testing over the summer included groundwater sampling.

Once testing is completed to the regulatory agencies’ satisfaction, Langan will develop remediation work plans for the fields. Those plans will be submitted to the EPA and DEEP for approval.