Photographs: Kendra Wingate
Many residents wonder what’s going on with the large grassy field located at 2190 Post Road. We have the scoop for you!
This site was formerly home to the Exide Battery Plant which opened in 1950 producing automotive batteries and discontinued operations in 1981. The approximately 6.32 acres of land is owned by The Exide Group, Inc. The site’s fate has been deliberated since the companies closing 33 years ago, as the town of Fairfield along with residents (Fairfielders Protecting Land and Neighborhoods; FairPLAN) have demanded improvements. Alas, an agreement has been made to remediate both the land and the waters surrounding the battery plant, which are contaminated with lead, each of which has been approved by the Ct Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“Exide has hired a remediation contractor who is going to be tasked with the removal of lead contaminated sediment in the Mill River from Southport Harbor approximately 4,000 feet north to Mill Hollow Park, so it’s almost a mile,” explained Tom Steinke, Fairfield’s Conservation Director. “They’re taking approximately 25,000 – 30,000 cubic yards of lead contaminated sediment out.”
Exide’s remediation team has completed the cleanup of the upland portion of the work and is now well underway to completing the water portion which will be conducted in five phases.
Water remediation locations
Phase 1: between the railroad and Interstate 95
Phase 2: between the railroad and the Post Road
Phase 3: between the Post Road and Harbor Road / Tide Mill dam
Phase 4: below Harbor Road and the dam, into the Southport Harbor
Phase 5: above I95 to Mill Hollow Park
Phases will start in a 5 – 1 order.
According to Ken Money, Exide Representative and Project Manager, water treatment plants have been installed on the field where the remediation work, via hydraulic dredging will take place, Geotubes will separate the solids from the liquids, the water will then be treated, the solids will be shipped off site for disposal to a number of landfill sites in the northeastern part of the country and the clean, contaminant free water will be reintroduced back into the Mill River and Harbor from which it came.
Geotube containers are constructed of high strength, permeable, specially engineered textiles designed for containment and dewatering of high moisture content sludge and sediment.
“The reintroduction of the water will have no impact on wildlife and dredging won’t have adverse effects on major parts of wildlife – birds, swans, etc.,” said Money. “The sediment does contain bio material (tiny bugs/worms) that form the basis of the food chain in the rivers sentiment. They will be removed; however they have a natural tendency to rejuvenate themselves once they’re disturbed, so we are comfortable that they will regenerate.”
Steinke suggested the project completion may take 2-3 years depending on weather, tides, etc. and assures possible spillage along the uplands will be re-cleaned. Money explained, “There are some periods of time we cannot dredge because of protection to wildlife and fish species,” so guesstimates it will take a year and a half on and off again to dredge it all out.
Chromium has also been detected and must be removed. “The Superior Plating Company (2 Lacey Place, Southport) is under orders by the DEEP to remove the Chromium,” said Steinke. Where the Chromium is co-located with the lead, it will be removed by Exide’s efforts, where it is not, it is the Superior Plating Co.’s responsibility.
“Once all the final approvals are received, the property will be sold and there is currently a party with the first right of refusal waiting,” continued Ken Money.
Bonus: The ‘Sunflower Lady’, as the teams call her, is a resident who volunteers her time to plant lovely flowers along the fence line! Lucky us!
Fun fact: Companies often partake in ‘bio-remediation’ efforts by planting items which absorb unwanted containments from the soil.