By Rob Glidden
The remnants of an oil spill at DePaolo Middle School in 1980 are expected to add approximately $121,000 to the cost of renovating of Southington’s middle schools, but information about the impact of the recently discovered PCBs is not yet available.
The estimate was given during the last meeting of the Middle Schools Building Committee, which has become busier since more information came out about the oil spill and the Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) found in window caulking and floor tiles.
Thomas DiMauro, with Newfield Construction, told the board it would cost $100,000 to excavate the 700 cubic yards of impacted soil and clean the nearby groundwater. When committee member Venard Chanski asked if that estimate included the cost of filling the hole back up, DiMauro estimated another $21,000 would be needed.
The oil spill only affects one of the two schools and is not expected to be nearly as expensive to remediate as the PCBs. The environmental company Hygenix has been conducting numerous tests in the two schools over the past few weeks.
“We don’t yet have all the PCB information,” DiMauro said. “The data has been collected but not compiled and we don’t have cost estimates for the remediation yet.”
PCBs are common in older buildings constructed before their toxic nature became public knowledge. Officials fear that costs for PCB abatement could amount to millions of dollars, especially since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been strengthening its standards about PCBs over the last few months.
DePaolo Assistant Principal Chris Palmieri, who is also Vice-Chairman of the committee, shared a letter written to Town Manager Garry Brumback by Macky McCleary, a deputy commission with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“Though this is a serious issue, the potential presence of PCBs in buildings should not be a cause for alarm – there are steps building owners can take to protect students,
teachers and others,” McCleary wrote. “I am confident that with the proper investment of funds and time you can navigate the complicated requirements and reach an endpoint that both satisfies EPA’s regulatory requirements and is protective of the students in Southington.”
McCleary also noted that Southington is not alone in dealing with these issues, which Palmieri said he found comforting.
“Our first concern is safety and I think it’s nice to have these reassurances from the state,” Palmieri said.
The committee intends to have the fully compiled data about the PCBs for their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Chairman Edward Pocock, Jr. said he was disappointed not to have the information earlier but understood the hard work involved in the testing.
“We’re still on our timeline, but this was a lot of samples for the lab to do,” he said. “What could be in one window might be a different concentration than what’s in another window.”