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Environmental Protection Agency Seeks Public Comment on Proposal to Demolish Fairfield Building

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NEW YORK, NY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging residents of Fairfield and surrounding areas to comment on its proposal to demolish a building and remove contaminated soil from the Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation Superfund site located at 25 Sherwood Ln. in Fairfield.

After taking public comments via e-mail, mail and phone, the EPA will also hold a public meeting on Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Fairfield Municipal Building to explain the proposed plan. Comments will be accepted until Aug. 22.

Before ending its operations at the Fairfield site in 2001, Unimatic used the site to run a metal-molding facility and operated machines using lubricating oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Ultimately, the company’s operations caused the soil, groundwater and building on the property to be contaminated with PCBs.

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“EPA’s cleanup details how we will address the PCBs at this site to protect the health of people who live in Fairfield,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “PCBs were widely used in industrial and commercial applications until they were banned in 1979. They persist in the environment and can damage the human immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.”

Under the EPA proposed cleanup plan, which is estimated to cost about $18 million, the building will be demolished so that contaminated sections of the building and contaminated soil underneath can be removed. The EPA will work with local officials to determine the best time to do the demolition and notify the public before demolition begins. Strict procedures will be followed to control dust during the demolition.

Unimatic operated a metal-molding facility at the site from 1955 until 2001. The company allegedly discharged wastewater, which contained PCBs, through floor trenches into leaky wastewater discharge pipes.

The leaky pipes allowed the PCB-wastewater to seep into the ground at the site, contaminating soil and groundwater throughout the property and leading to soil contamination on the adjacent properties. Operations inside the building also contaminated the interior of the building.

In 2001, Unimatic stopped operations at the site. Since 2002, the facility has been used by Frameware, Inc., a metal-frame-parts manufacturer and distributor. In 2012, Frameware, Inc. moved its operations and relocated its workers.

The nearest public-drinking water wells in Fairfield are located less than one-half mile from the site and are regularly tested to ensure that they meet all federal and state drinking water standards.

The EPA’s plan would also require removing and disposing contaminated soil from portions of the site and backfilling those areas with clean soil. The soil would be dug up and properly disposed of at facilities licensed to handle the waste.

In total, approximately 26,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed from the site, according to the EPA. During the cleanup, the EPA will monitor the air in order to protect the public from any hazardous particles in the air resulting from the demolition, and will sample the soil to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

In the next phase of the cleanup, the EPA will address the groundwater contamination.

The EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers.

The EPA has determined that the Unimatic Manufacturing Corporation is potentially responsible for the contamination at this site.    

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:

Trevor Anderson, Remedial Project Manager

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

290 Broadway, 19th Floor

New York, N.Y. 10007

Trevor Anderson can also be contacted directly at 212-673-4425 or anderson.trevor@epa.gov.

To view the proposed cleanup plan, visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/unimatic.

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