Thursday, February 29, 2024

Blasting Notice

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Raymark Clean-up

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews are preparing to use explosives later this month to blast away up to a foot of rock as part of the construction of a new crucial pumping station that will help mitigate flooding near the banks of the Housatonic River.

The drilling and blasting work will take place over the course of three weeks in an area east of Platt Street, according to Mike Looney, a project manager with the corps. Vibration monitors will be deployed across the secured site and a series of 6000-pound blasting mats will be used to help contain the about 10 planned explosions.

To ensure the surrounding homes are unaffected, Looney said federal officials will conduct inspections in the area around the blasting. He also noted during a community meeting on Wednesday, “Our approach is to minimize ground vibrations as much as possible when we’re doing that work,” Looney said, “We don’t expect this to cause a lot of nuisance or vibration.”

The construction of the pump station is a key part of a new stormwater conveyance system that has been designed to handle what is expected to be a significant amount of rainwater runoff at the former Raybestos Memorial Field on Frog Pond Lane.

The Environmental Protection Agency is using the abandoned softball field to consolidate tens of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil that was dumped across town by Raymark Industries, a defunct automotive parts manufacturer.

Engineers are currently “capping” the harmful soil with a clay-type material to prevent the toxic chemicals from emerging from the ground. But the shell-like layer also prevents rainwater from seeping into the land.

To prevent flooding, crews are building a conveyance line that will link the field to the planned pump station a third of a mile away on the edge of the river. Looney said the pump station will operate during significant storms and other high water events.

The conveyance line is expected to be finished by this summer and the pump station is expected to be completed by mid-2024. Once the Raymark clean-up is complete and the entire field is capped, buildings may be constructed on the site. Town officials have also mentioned that the site could be used for playing fields for residents.

Meanwhile, the work to remove soil polluted by Raymark with cancer-causing agents such as asbestos, lead, and polychlorinated biphenyls is ongoing, according to Jim DiLorenzo, an environmental engineer with the EPA.

As of June, crews have dug up about 52,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil from 23 private and town-owned properties as part of the $95 million cleanup effort. Another 6,252 cubic yards of hazardous waste have also been removed and transported to a disposal site outside of town since the work kicked off in 2020.

Crews are now finishing up remediation work at Beacon Point, including the reconstruction of a town-owned recreation dock and pier, and are in the midst of clearing polluted soil from badly-polluted Ferry Creek — an intensive project that DiLorenzo said will take up to nine months to finish.

“Ferry Creek is the most significant remediation that is going to take place this year,” he said. DiLorenzo has said that by the time the project is expected to end in late 2024, somewhere between 100,000 to 125,000 cubic yards of toxic soil will have been extracted and consolidated at the former Raybestos field.

A community meeting with updates is scheduled for the public on efforts to remove Raymark waste at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26th. Information about the meeting can be found at stratfordct.gov/raymark.

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