New Leb School Environmental Assessment Reveals Arsenic

The following is a statement from Kim Eves, director of communication for the Greenwich Board of Education, issued 5:00pm on Friday, March 13:

The Greenwich Pubic Schools (GPS) commissioned a limited Phase II Environmental Site Investigation following the receipt and review of the Phase I Environmental Assessment (Reference Phase I Report Release dated March 3, 2015), for each of the potential areas of New Lebanon School construction.

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The back of New Lebanon School, photographed from adjacent Byram Schubert Library. file photo

The identified areas included the ravine to the east of New Lebanon School (Scheme C), the baseball field to the east of the Byram Shubert Library (Scheme B) and the New Lebanon School (Scheme A). After much deliberation and collection of input from the community, the baseball field and perimeter of the New Lebanon School were removed from consideration as potential areas of construction.

Eight soil borings were advanced and a total of eight soil samples were collected from the three potential construction areas. Three samples were collected from around the perimeter of New Lebanon. The Phase I assessment identified an active underground storage tank and an abandoned underground storage tank. The soil samples collected in this area showed no evidence of fuel oil or any other contaminants requiring action.

Two soil samples were collected from the ravine area. One of the samples showed no evidence of contaminants exceeding regulatory criteria.

The other sample showed trace amounts of pesticides on the threshold of the Pollutant Mobility Criteria. The Pollutant Mobility Criteria are established to prevent pollution of ground water.

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These criteria apply to pollutants located above the water table. The pesticides do not exceed the Residential Direct Exposure Criteria. Based on the available data, direct contact with the soil in the ravine area is not a concern. The excedance of the Pollutant Mobility Criteria will be addressed as part of the future construction phase of the project. No action is necessary at this time.

Excess soil generated during construction activities will be evaluated to determine special handling requirements. This waste characterization is performed as a typical phase of construction.

Three samples were collected from the baseball field. Two of the three samples contain arsenic at concentrations above the Residential Direct Exposure Criteria.

The samples were collected at a depth of one to two feet below ground surface.

While the results are above the Residential Direct Exposure Criteria, they are not at a level that requires immediate regulatory notification or immediate action. It is important to note that the grass cover on the field is in good condition and that this minimizes the potential to come in direct contact with the soil.

The Department of Parks and Recreation will continue to inspect and maintain the grass cover on the field as additional evaluation of the soil quality is conducted. The exposed earth on the base paths and around home plate is typically imported for this use and is not expected to share the same characteristics as the soil beneath the grass areas. We are working with our consultant to evaluate the surficial soil to determine if further action is needed.

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Students lined up for lunch in the small cafeteria at New Lebanon School. Credit: Leslie Yager

This phase will commence as weather and snow melt allow. We are also working with the Town Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

We encourage community members to contact these agencies with any health-related questions. Our focus, as always, is on the safety of our community and we will continue to share environmental information as it becomes available.

Greenwich Public Schools is proposing a long-term, multifaceted solution for accelerating achievement and addressing the achievement gap, racial imbalance, and facility utilization difficulties as presented in the 2014 State approved Racial Balance Plan.

The proposed New Lebanon Elementary School will be built to attract students from the entire town who are interested in an International Baccalaureate (IB) education. The facility must be sized to accept the larger enrollment from the catchment area, add space for magnet students, and add classrooms to restore the pre-kindergarten program.

New Leb

New Lebanon School was built in 1956. Four classrooms were added in 1992. The pre-kindergarten program was moved out of the school for the 2012-2013 school year, and the kindergarten program moved out in the 2014-15 school year to address overcrowding and relieve strain on the facility.

Many of the classrooms are sized correctly, but all the special classrooms, gym, administration, and small group learning rooms are undersized. The smaller than average cafeteria and kitchen impact the school schedule.

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