The Fairfield Health Department wanted to share these email responses from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to the parents of a child attending Jennings School:
Fairfield Mom’s Email to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP):
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2019 9:39 PM
To: DEEP Webmaster DEEP.Webmaster@ct.gov
Subject: Urgent and time sensitive- Children’s health and safety
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to ask for your help. I am a resident of Fairfield, CT and the mother of a child entering the third grade at Jennings Elementary School in The Fairfield Public School District. I am writing to you about the arsenic contamination on the Jennings School field, right next to the playground. This happened after contaminated substances were used for fill on school grounds and fields. I am providing the site where the specific report can be found:
Claims have been made that remediation will occur, but no details or information regarding the method and extent of remediation has been provided. There has not been any information shared on the timing of process of the remediation, so that parents can be assured that our kids and teachers will not be present during remediation and for any necessary period after, when exposure to toxins may increase as they are unearthed. Furthermore, the site where arsenic was found at unacceptable levels is close to the playground as well as to the school building, itself. Jennings Elementary School is mostly not air conditioned and windows have to be opened to achieve suitable temperatures, which makes the school itself even more vulnerable to any of the toxins from the outside.
In addition, we need to be assured that after remediation air, water and soil quality tests will be conducted and available to the public so that we can be certain that remediation has been effective and successful and that our children are in a safe and toxin free environment when they return.
An objective and removed third party must provide oversight in order to ensure the health and safety of our children. We must know how and when remediation will occur, and that our Town and kids will be kept safe.
Please respond as soon as possible, and please let us know that you will use your influence and resources to help protect our children.
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Email Response:
From: Isner, Robert Robert.Isner@ct.gov
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 4:18 PM
Subject: FW: Urgent and time sensitive- Children’s health and safety
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has received your email below and we are aware the contaminated fill use issues at the root of your concerns. DEEP is receiving regular updates from the Town of Fairfield and its environmental consultant on the environmental assessment work and remedial plan currently underway. Town of Fairfield is sharing information on this matter with DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and there is ongoing collaboration between the various agencies to address all of the concerns being raised within our respective jurisdictions.
DEEP understands there is significant public interest about the concerns you have raised. There is new information becoming available at a very fast pace and the Town of Fairfield has established a webpage to inform and update its citizens on the status of their actions at: https://www.fairfieldct.org/filluseissues
With regard to your questions about public health concerns, DEEP defers to the Fairfield Department of Health and DPH. The following is a link to video clip with DPH’s comments on the health risks associated with the subject fill that may help address some of your concerns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5cmf43B80I.
Robert C. Isner
Waste Engineering and Enforcement Division
Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
P: 860.424-3264 |F: 860.424-4059 |E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfield Dad’s Email to Connecticut Department of Health:
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2019 11:17 AM
To: Hage, Michael Michael.Hage@ct.gov
Subject: Urgent Children's Health and Safety Matter
Dear Mr. Hage,
I am writing to ask for your help as a concerned citizen of our State, a resident of the Town of Fairfield, and most importantly, as a parent of a child attending Fairfield schools, in particular Jennings Elementary School. No doubt you are aware of the issues regarding arsenic contamination on Jennings School grounds since it has received media attention well outside of our State. Recent testing confirmed arsenic levels on Jennings school grounds well above acceptable levels, which can be traced back to contaminated substances used for fill on school grounds and fields. A link to the report on testing is below.
The response to this matter by local government officials has been grossly inadequate. Putting aside for a moment that local representatives were made aware of this matter almost five years ago, and did nothing to address it, now that levels have been tested, and results confirmed that toxins exist that put the health and welfare of our students in danger, their response remains grossly inadequate given the gravity of the situation. Claims have been made that remediation will occur, but no information has been shared regarding the method and extent of remediation so that citizens can have input. No information has been shared on the timing of remediation, so that parents can be assured that our kids and teachers will not be present during remediation and for any necessary period after, when exposure increases during the remediation process as the toxins are unearthed. In addition, after remediation, air water and soil quality tests must be conducted in order to ensure the remediation has been effective and successful so our children can be returned to school only when it is safe to do so.
Clearly increased intervention and oversight is required here to ensure the safety of our children, school officials and others who come into contact with our school and school grounds. We the parents of Jennings School kids implore you to leverage Sate and Federal Government resources in order to ensure that any remediation is accomplished safely and effectively. An objective and removed third party must provide oversight in order to ensure the health and safety of our children. We must know how and when remediation will occur, and that our Town and kids will be kept safe. Please respond as soon as you can, and please let us know that you will bring the weight of your influence and resources to help protect our children.
Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Meg Harvey’s Email Response to the Fairfield Dad:
From: Harvey, Margaret
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 12:53 PM
Subject: RE: Urgent Children's Health and Safety Matter
Your email was forwarded to me by Michael Hage DPH Drinking Water Section. I have closely reviewed the soil testing results from the Gould Manor Park sidewalk area as well as the 8 public school fields/grounds recently tested by Tighe and Bond (licensed environmental consultant).
Five (5) soil samples taken from the Jennings School grassed soccer/athletic field did not have contaminants that exceeded Connecticut’s direct soil contact standards for residential areas. Residential standards are developed to be protective of very young children who play directly in bare soil 365 days per year in their residential yard. One soil sample taken from the northern edge of the grassed field (near the playground) had an arsenic level of 13.7 mg/kg. This level is slightly greater than the residential soil cleanup standard of 10 mg/kg.
All soils have background levels of arsenic. In Connecticut, background arsenic levels in soil can range from 10 mg/kg to as high as around 30-40 mg/kg. We don’t know what background arsenic levels in soil are in Fairfield but it is entirely possible that the arsenic measured at Jennings School is due to background conditions rather than placement of fill.
The results from Gould Manor Park, Jennings School and the other tested schools show that concentrations of contaminants detected in the soil are not high enough to present a public health exposure risk to children or adults using the areas.
The Town of Fairfield has shared that they are planning to remediate soil that is found to exceed residential standards. They are doing this to provide an added measure of health protectiveness. DPH will continue to provide advice and technical assistance to the Town to ensure that public health continues to be protected, including during the design and implementation of soil remediation actions.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions or concerns.
Meg Harvey, MPH
Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program
CT Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Avenue, MS 11EOH, Hartford, CT 06134
Ph. 860-509-7748, fax 860-509-7785