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Assignment:  CT Brownfield Sites Capt Test Preparation Activity
Date: Background information on Brownfield Sites in Connecticut

This background information was summarized by Mrs. Battaglia and Mrs. Roche from these two websites:   
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection 
http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2715&q=324930&depNav_GID=1626 and from 
The Newhall Remediation Project http://www.newhallinfo.org      

BACKGROUND 

What are Brownfields?
A Brownfield is property/land that may have the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.  These sites, once used for industrial, manufacturing, or commercial uses, were lying abandoned or unused due to known or suspected contamination with hazardous substances. Unknown environmental problems were preventing communities, developers, and investors from restoring these properties to productive use, which impacted neighborhoods.

Where is there a Brownfield site near where you live or go to school?
There were a total of 281 known Brownfield sites in Connecticut as of September 30, 2004.  However, many more sites may exist within the state. An in depth list of contaminated or potentially contaminated sites in Connecticut include the following: 

By going to the Towns/Villages pages that include Simsbury, you can find this information about a site near where you go to school or live. 

Site Name --Site Address--Site Definition-The source of the contamination (ex. Leaking underground storage tank)

By looking at the chart you can identify the contaminants at that site.

List of possible contaminants

Possible source of contamination/Site definition

Contaminant

metal finishing/plating shops, manufacturing and foundries, coal burning power plants and landfills

Heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium chromium, lead, mercury

gasoline stations, tank farms, pipelines

Gasoline/constituents of gasoline:  gasoline, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene

dry cleaners, machine shops, metal finishing/plating shops

Solvents:  tetrachloroethlyene, trichloroethylene,  III-trichloroethane

leaking underground storage tank              

Petroleum products                                   

PAHs are a group of over 100 different chemicals formed during the incomplete burning of many things including coal, oil, garbage, and cigarettes.

PAH (polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons)

decomposing waste materials present in landfills.

Methane gas

Explosives manufacturing company

explosive chemicals that are designed and produced for use as an explosive (e.g., TNT, explosive bolts, bullets, blasting caps, and fireworks).

The Newhall Remediation Project

Newhall is a neighborhood in Hamden, Connecticut, where pollution has been found.

Brief History:  This area, also called Highwood, was mostly swamp and farmlands until the 1870s when residential subdivisions were built to house families of workers in New Haven's factories.

Two public health issues played important roles in creating the pollution. The first was the supposed link between wetlands and disease; the second was the link between waste and disease. From 1900 to about 1950, public health officials were convinced that by filling in low, marshy areas with refuse (garbage), the problems associated with wetlands and with waste could both be resolved.  During this period several dumps were established in the Newhall neighborhood.  Some of this land was later used for the town's middle school.  In 1979 the soil around the school's football field was found to contain lead and PAH's*.  In addition, further tests were done in 2001 where they found waste (batteries and shell casings) from Winchester Repeating Arms Factory in pits near the tennis courts.  The school's air and groundwater were also tested but were found to be safe.

TESTING

What Was Tested: Since 2000 there has been a lot of testing for contamination in the Newhall neighborhood. Testing for soil and water pollution has been done on public lands such as the Middle School grounds and athletic fields, Rochford Field, Mill Rock Park, and at private residences.  By the end of 2005 most of the investigation of the area was completed, though some additional testing continues in limited areas.  The testing at the school was being done to locate sources of contaminants from the former landfill, such as buried drums of pollutants and metal objects.  In addition tests were done to determine the flow of groundwater on the property.

Testing Done at Hamden Middle School

From mid July through the end of August 2004, the athletic fields and grounds of Hamden Middle School were plotted and tested for contamination by the Regional Water Authority.

Under the direction of the consultant firm Leggette, Brashears & Graham, Inc. (LBG), teams of workers dug into the soil and groundwater to take soil samples and install groundwater monitoring wells. LBG will evaluate the results and come up with a recommendation of what needs to be done to complete the remediation of the school property. This information will be put into a complete report that will be submitted for the Department of Environmental Protection's review and approval in March 2005. The report will also be shared with the public.

Before any testing could begin, the consultants had to carefully plot out a huge grid using thick twine and stakes to map the entire 20-acre site. Some 60,000 feet of twine (11 miles) was needed.

What they were looking for

The testing at the school was being done to locate sources of contaminants, soil cap and edge of former landfill areas, buried drums and metal objects and to determine the flow of groundwater on the property. (Follow this link to read a summary of testing plan. ) The following photos show only a few elements of the investigation at the Middle School site. They were taken on site visits in July and August, 2004.

Using technology to shorten search for buried objects
Searching for buried drums and other metal objects in the athletic fields behind Hamden Middle School has been made a lot easier by using electromagnetic surveys. Technicians are able to detect metals at specific locations below the ground surface by using sensing devices without having to excavate the entire field.

The odd-looking instrument uses electromagnetic waves (pictured above) to detect metal objects buried underground. Before the technician began her trek, the entire Hamden Middle School property had to be marked out with twine, in 20 x 20 foot sections to form a huge grid of the property. This not only made walking the property easier, it also made sure all sections were covered by the sensing device and, if metals were detected, their location could be accurately marked for further study.

The electromagnetic survey showed that most of the Middle School site that had black industrial waste fill had a possibility of containing metals. So more testing in these areas using ground penetrating radar (pictured below) was necessary to try to get more detail.

Digging deeper

When readings from the ground penetrating radar device suggested there might be metals buried below, consultants dug test pits on the school property. The pits were 8 feet deep and varied in length and width. Pictured below is a test pit dug in late August at the Hamden Middle School. Note the safety procedures followed handling potentially contaminated soil and objects.

Some objects get a closer look. Chris Harriman of Haley & Aldrich, Inc., a consultant hired by the Town of Hamden, finds paper with writing on it. He is able to read labels for boxes made to hold .22 caliber gun ammunition made by Winchester Repeating Arms.

No buried drums were found in the test pit. Objects were similar to what was uncovered from other test pits previously dug at the school, parks and in the neighborhood - bricks, bottles, scrap metal, paper, battery caps and rods, wood and concrete. One surprising find was a General Electric 50 watt light bulb - and it was unbroken despite being buried under heavy soil so many years ago!

When examination of the test pit is complete, excess contaminated soil is placed in a storage container and removed from the site. Clean fill is put into the pit to a depth of four feet.

Ground where test pit is dug is covered with clean soil and normal use of the field can resume.

Contamination--GENERAL

Several things have already been done to protect residents of the Newhall neighborhood from coming into contact with harmful substances that are buried and in the soil. Temporary caps (a barrier of soil, wood chips or asphalt) have been placed over public areas, such as the school, athletic fields and Rochford Field. Some residential yards have been temporarily cleaned up, many residents have received information about digging and gardening in their yards so they won't come in contact with pollution and still others have received information about covering bare-soil areas.

While it is known that potentially harmful substance are buried in the ground of the Newhall neighborhood, it does not mean residents and students will become sick. The potential risk of getting ill depends on how much direct contact a person has with these substances.

 

What is Exposure?

What is exposure?

"Exposure" means that you have come into contact with a chemical or some other harmful substance, and it has gotten into your body. If you are not exposed to a chemical, it won't make you sick.

How can exposure happen?

For a chemical exposure to occur, there has to be a place where the chemical comes from. This place is called a source. A source could be a landfill, pond, soil, creek, drum, or factory. There are many different sources of chemicals. You could come into contact with a chemical at its source. Or, the chemical could move from its source to a place where you could come into contact with it. Chemicals can move through soil, air and water. In the Newhall neighborhood chemicals have been found in the soil because of dumping of industrial and household waste that was used to fill wetlands and low spots beginning 100 years ago. If the soil is disturbed these chemicals can also become airborne. Chemicals can also be on plants or animals, and possibly get into or on the foods you eat that have been grown in soil that is contaminated. Some chemicals from the landfill areas have gotten into the groundwater in the Newhall neighborhood. This groundwater is NOT used for drinking water. The Newhall neighborhood gets its drinking water from Regional Water Authority reservoirs located in either Woodbridge, North Branford, East Haven or Branford.

How does a chemical get into your body?

The three main ways a chemical can get into your body are:
1. Breathing air that has the chemical in it.
2. Eating or drinking something with the chemical in or on it.
3. Getting it on your skin or touching something with the chemical on it.

If you are exposed to a chemical, will you get sick?

Factors that play a part in whether you will get sick from a chemical exposure are:

  • the type of chemical (its toxic characteristics)
  • the amount (how much of a chemical you were exposed to)
  • the duration (how long the exposure was)
  • the frequency (how many times you were exposed)

Also, people respond to chemicals in different ways. Some people may be exposed to a chemical, but may not get sick. Other people may be more sensitive to a chemical, and get sick from an exposure. (For example, young children are more affected by exposure to lead than adults) And some illnesses would be caused only if you were exposed to a chemical for a long time.

 

What is Contamination?

This section is based on information provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Some of the text contains direct quotes while other EPA information is paraphrased.

The kind of contamination that we are concerned about in the Newhall neighborhood is called environmental contamination. Environmental contamination means that there is something in the soil (dirt), water, or air that could be harmful to people, plants or animals. The four main kinds of environmental contamination are: Soil Contamination, Groundwater Contamination, Surface Water Contamination and Air Contamination. The main type of contamination that has been found in the Newhall neighborhood is soil contamination. Groundwater testing is also being done to see if it has been contaminated as well. Results from sampling will be shared as they become available. Each type of contamination is described below, along with where it comes from, how it can harm people, and how to clean it up.


SOIL, AIR, WATER CONTAMINATION

Soil Contamination

What is soil contamination?

Soil contamination is either solid or liquid chemicals or compounds mixed within the soil. Often contaminants in the soil are attached to soil particles (or grains). If they are not attached to the soil, they can be trapped in the small spaces between soil particles. Soil can be contaminated but not harmful to health, it really depends on whether or not you are exposed and to how much.

How did it get there?

Soil contamination in the Newhall neighborhood came from dumping of industrial and household waste in wetlands and low spots and mixing with soil. Eventually these areas were filled, covered with soil, and developed for houses, businesses, the middle school and other public area. Covering the wastes and developing the area caused soil to mix with wastes.

How can soil contamination be cleaned up?

Depending on the problem, there are many different ways to clean soil contamination. However, there are three main ways to cleaning up contaminated soil:
1) the soil can be excavated (dug-up) and be either treated or removed entirely from the area;
2) the soil can be left in the ground and treated in place; or
3) the soil can be left in the ground and contained to prevent the contamination from spreading and reaching plants, animals, or humans.

When contaminated soil is left in place, it is usually done by placing a large plastic cover or cap over the contaminated soil. At the Hamden Middle School the cap behind the auditorium is made up of a one inch geotextile barrier that rests over a plastic grid. At the bottom of the photo there are traces of the black matrix fill where contamination has been found. Above the soil cap the soil is light brown and clean. The cap helps prevent direct contact and to keep rain water from going into the soil and spreading the contamination to groundwater. It also prevents dust from forming and becoming airborne. Some other treatments can include: flushing contaminants out of the soil using water or some other liquid solution or air; burning the contaminants at special facilities; encouraging natural organisms, like bacteria, in the soil to break them down; or adding material to the soil to enclose the contaminants and prevent them from spreading. The treatment method used depends on the specific chemicals - not all methods can be used on all chemicals.

In some locations of the Newhall neighborhood contaminated soil has been both removed and temporarily covered with clean soil and wood chips. In the mid 1990's the Town of Hamden put a layer of clean soil over the soccer fields behind Hamden Middle School and in January 2001 covered contaminated soil areas next to the middle school buildings. Between Fall 2001 and Spring 2002, the federal Environmental Protection Agency removed highly contaminated soil at 13 private residences and replaced it with clean soil. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Projection spread wood chips in some yards where there were high levels of contaminants exposed in bare soils. At Rochford Field the Town paved high traffic areas and replaced bare dirt areas.

 

Groundwater Contamination

What is groundwater contamination?

Groundwater is water underneath the ground. It comes from rain water or water from surface water like lakes or streams that soaks into the soil. The water is stored underground in the tiny spaces between rocks and soil grains and can move around within the soil. Groundwater contamination occurs when the water comes into contact with contaminants. Currently there are groundwater monitoring wells installed in the Newhall neighborhood, the parks and at the schools. Additionally, two dozen more wells will be installed in the residential areas to see if the known soil contamination has moved into the groundwater.

 

Surface Water Contamination

NOTE: Surface water testing in the Newhall Remediation Project will occur only if the results of the groundwater testing shows this is an area of concern. Surface waters within or near the Newhall area are limited.

What is surface water contamination?

Surface water is usually rainwater that collects in surface water bodies, like oceans, lakes, or streams. Another source of surface water is groundwater that comes out of the ground from springs. Surface water can become polluted when contaminants come into direct contact and either dissolve or physically mix with the water. Surface waters that may be affected by contamination from the Newhall neighborhood are a stream and wetland west of the Augur Street area and the Beaver Ponds located one-half mile southeast of the neighborhood. However, because typical contaminants at this site don't move very far, it is unlikely that Beaver Ponds is affected. More testing is needed to see if contamination is occurring.

 

Air Contamination

What is air contamination?

The air we breathe can become contaminated if chemicals are released to the air in a gas form or if dust is generated from contaminated soil. Some chemicals can bind to soil particles and won't let go. Dust in the air is partly made up of soil particles suspended in the air.

Chemicals found:

Lead

The lead found at the Newhall site is mixed in the soil where there is buried landfill waste. Lead is a metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes, including paint. It was also used in the neighborhood in the past in the manufacture of guns and ammunition at the Winchester Repeating Arms factory (which is no longer there). Lead can cause a range of health effects, from flu-like symptoms, behavior problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and in extreme cases where there has been exposure to very high doses, death. Each of the health effects often depends on how much the person is exposed to and for how long. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. People can get lead in their body if they:

  • Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
  • Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead.
  • Breathe in lead dust

The potential exists for lead poisoning to occur if children play in residential yards where bare soil is exposed. The best thing to do to prevent lead poisoning in children is to have children age 6 and under tested for lead by a medical provider.

You are not likely to get lead poisoning from sitting on the ground or playing on the athletic fields, even if there is some lead in the soil. In the mid-1990s, a soil barrier was placed on the athletic fields at the Hamden Middle School. The barrier serves to prevent exposure, even in area where lead was found to be a high levels under the ground. Remember, if you're not exposed, you are not at risk of getting sick. For more information on lead please navigate to the following page: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts13.html (back to top)

Arsenic

Arsenic, an element that is found naturally in soil at low levels and is considered by some to be a dietary essential element, was discovered at elevated levels in Rochford Field, in some areas around the Middle School and in some yards. Inorganic arsenic is used to preserve wood and for insecticides and weed killers. Exposure to arsenic at high levels can irritate and darken skin, cause sore throats, irritated lungs, abnormal heart rhythm and blood vessel damage, increase the risk of skin cancer, and tumors of the bladder, kidney, liver and lungs. The following link, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts2.html, provides more detailed information about arsenic.

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

PAHs are a group of over 100 different chemicals formed during the incomplete burning of many things including coal, oil, garbage, and cigarettes. They are found throughout the environment. People can be exposed to PAHs by eating grilled or charred meats, breathing FOR A LONG TIME air containing PAHs from smoke or from airborne oil particles, such as vehicle exhaust or touching PAH contaminated soil. In order to be exposed to PAHs, you must come into direct contact with contaminated soil (for example, digging with bare hands in the soil, eating soil particles on hands or food, or breathing airborne soil particles). Several PAHs have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and in people after long periods of exposure at high levels. Studies in animals have also shown that PAHs can cause harmful effects on skin and the immune system, however those effects have not been reported in people. More detailed information about PAHs can be found at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html. (back to top)

Methane

Methane is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas. It is the primary ingredient in natural gas used for heating. Methane is produced from decomposing waste materials present in landfills. Landfill material is present underneath Hamden Middle School so it was not surprising that methane was found underneath the solid concrete boiler room floor of the school. But, from the testing that has been done, this gas does not appear to be present under the floor in other parts of the school. Methane has also not been detected in any indoor air of the school.

Methane is not toxic to the body. However, if enough methane builds up in an enclosed space (such as a closet) with enough oxygen, it can produce an explosion if lit (such as with a lighted cigarette or spark from electricity). A monitor with a 24-hour alarm system has been installed in the custodian's office as a measure to prevent this type of incident. If there is even the slightest change, the monitor notifies the custodian and the Hamden Building and Facilities Manager.

CLEAN-UP/REMEDIATION

What is remediation?
In Connecticut, state remediation programs are in place to help promote the cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfields and other contaminated sites.  The CT Remediation Standard Regulations (RSRs)  established clear cleanup standards, which must be met to ensure the safe reuse of contaminated sites.  Homeowners may receive funding from the state to help them evaluate their property and provide cleanup of any contaminants.  The federal government also provides money for the assessment, clean-up, and redevelopment of Brownfields.

The town of Hamden and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have established several plans to address the clean-up of the entire neighborhood.  It includes the placement of clean soil caps over waste fill areas, restrictions on digging deeper than 4 feet, some state funding to cover costs, and a tax break consideration based on the extent of the clean-up.  In addition, the Olin Corporation (a contributing polluter) is required to pay for clean-up and submit clean-up plans for approval by DEP.

Brownfield Sites in Connecticut (summary by RBattaglia) Source: CT Department of Environmental Protection 
http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2715&q=324930&depNav_GID=1626            

What are Brownfields?

A Brownfield is property/land that may have the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.  These sites, once used for industrial, manufacturing, or commercial uses, were lying abandoned or unused due to known or suspected contamination with hazardous substances. Unknown environmental problems were preventing communities, developers, and investors from restoring these properties to productive use, which impacted neighborhoods.

Complete this sentence in your own words: A Brownfield is: 

 

 

In Connecticut, state remediation programs are in place to help promote the cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfields and other contaminated sites.  The CT Remediation Standard Regulations (RSRs) established clear cleanup standards, which must be met to ensure the safe reuse of contaminated sites.  Homeowners may receive funding from the state to help them evaluate their property and provide cleanup of any contaminants.  The federal government also provides money for the assessment, clean-up, and redevelopment of Brownfields.

There were a total of 281 known Brownfield sites in Connecticut as of September 30, 2004.  However, many more sites may exist within the state. The following site lists known Brownfields based on their location. http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/site_clean_up/brownfields/brownfieldsinventory.pdf

A more in depth list of contaminated or potentially contaminated sites in Connecticut include the following: 

1.     Provide information about a brownfield site near where you live in Simsbury or Hartford. Complete this chart:  

Site Name --Site Address--Site Definition-The source of the contamination (ex. Leaking underground storage tank)

 

 

 

What are the contaminants?

 

The Newhall Remediation Project (summary by Mrs. Battaglia)

Newhall is a neighborhood in Hamden, Connecticut, where pollution has been found.

Brief History:  This area, also called Highwood, was mostly swamp and farmlands until the 1870s when residential subdivisions were built to house families of workers in New Haven's factories.

Two public health issues played important roles in creating the pollution. The first was the supposed link between wetlands and disease; the second was the link between waste and disease. From 1900 to about 1950, public health officials were convinced that by filling in low, marshy areas with refuse (garbage), the problems associated with wetlands and with waste could both be resolved.  During this period several dumps were established in the Newhall neighborhood.  Some of this land was later used for the town's middle school.  In 1979 the soil around the school's football field was found to contain lead and PAH's*.  In addition, further tests were done in 2001 were they found waste (batteries and shell casings) from Winchester Repeating Arms in pits near the tennis courts.  The school's air and groundwater were also tested but were found to be safe.

What Was Tested: Since 2000 there has been a lot of testing for contamination in the Newhall neighborhood. Testing for soil and water pollution has been done on public lands such as the Middle School grounds and athletic fields, Rochford Field, Mill Rock Park, and at private residences.

By the end of 2005 most of the investigation of the area was completed, though some additional testing continues in limited areas.  The testing at the school was being done to locate sources of contaminants from the former landfill, such as buried drums of pollutants and metal objects.  In addition tests were done to determine the flow of groundwater on the property.

*See the following link to discover all the contaminants found in the Newhall neighborhood: http://www.newhallinfo.org/contamination.html

Clean-Up:  The town of Hamden and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have established several plans to address the clean-up of the entire neighborhood.  It includes the placement of clean soil caps over waste fill areas, restrictions on digging deeper than 4 feet, some state funding to cover costs, and a tax break consideration based on the extent of the clean-up.  In addition, the Olin Corporation (a contributing polluter) is required to pay for clean-up and submit clean-up plans for approval by DEP.

A. Create at least three questions about the Newhall Remediation Project.   You may get your questions from the Newhall summary (above) and from these locations in the Newhall web site.  Answer the questions and state where you got your answer.

 Understanding contamination: http://www.newhallinfo.org/contamination.html

Frequently Asked Questions:    http://www.newhallinfo.org/faqs.html

Question

Answer

 

Where did you get your answer

1.

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

 

Create a hypothesis about the Newhall Remediation Project that could be answered in the remediation process.  The remediation process is a scientific investigation.  Remember hypothesis are written in the format:

If                                                               then                                                  because

 

 

 



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