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8/30/2019 - Fill Use Q&A Update – Friday, August 30, 2019

A Message from First Selectman Mike Tetreau:

As we continue to sample and test soils, the Town is following expert guidance from the State and LEP (Licensed Environmental Professional). One of our biggest priorities is to help our residents understand any exposure risk as we continue to provide timely and factual information to keep our community well-informed. One of the statements in the CT Department of Public Health’s email response to a Fairfield parent (see both emails below) provides some reassurance. Please read the Q&A below which includes the following assessment from the CT Department of Public Health:

“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.”

-Meg Harvey, MPH/CT Department of Public Health

CT Department of Public Health’s Response to Fairfield Parent On Health Concerns Related to Fill Use:

Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Meg Harvey’s Email Response to a 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
Epidemiologist 4
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

Fairfield Dad’s Email to Connecticut Department of Health:

Sent: Monday, August 26, 2019 11:17 AM
To: Hage, Michael
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.

Thank you.