Whether to remove or store the contaminated soil from the Fairfield Metro Center is the project within the project.
Because a metals factory once occupied the site, the soil must be removed. Yet, the more that gets trucked away, the more fresh soil is needed. But at a cost of between $12 and $30 per yard, topsoil is anything but "dirt cheap." Neither is storing contaminated soil and moving it off site.
The First Selectman’s office estimates it could cost upwards of $2 million to remove the soil. If it stays onsite, the cost would be negligible. The question is whether keeping it onsite is feasible.
“There is one small residual pocket that remains,” Mark S. Barnhart, Fairfield’s Director of Community and Economic Development, said.
The soil containing PCBs in concentration greater than 10 parts per million was sent to a landfill in upstate New York, Barnhart said. The rest of the soil, or casting sand, can remain onsite if it’s covered with a liner and topped with clean fill.
The problem here is that much of this sand came from the shoreline and environmentally sensitive areas. The work to restore the shoreline is about 40 percent complete. But it’s this sand that’s causing the problem.
While the contaminated soil was separated and stockpiled in designated areas of the metro center site, the question remains: whether to bury it beneath a liner or remove it from the site.
“Extending the liner might have some impact on future development and costs which we can’t ignore,” Barnhart said. “There is a cost associated with each option.”
For a venture running between $2 million and $6 million over budget, the issue must be resolved carefully and thoughtfully, according to the involved parties.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau is considering choices with the State Department of Environmental and Energy Protection.
“The clean fill is from a State-approved source, and is regularly tested to ensure that it meets stringent requirements for chemical and organic content. There are designated stockpile areas for the clean fill as well,” Tetreau wrote in a recent email. “All work is being monitored by a licensed environmental professional as well as the Town’s construction administration and inspection firm.”
Tetreau said he is also reviewing Black Rock Realty’s responsibility in dispatching the excess soil.