FAIRFIELD, Conn. - The plot of land next to Martels restaurant, which was formerly home to Exide Battery in Fairfield, is finally getting cleaned up for new development.
The site's fate has been debated since the company left nearly 30 years ago due to the high level of lead left in the soil around the plan. But the company finally came up with a plan approved by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to help clean up the nearby Mill River and the site. The property is currently owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
A group of residents called the Fairfielders Protecting Land and Neighborhoods (FairPLAN) has been working to ensure the clean up of this site, which they say in a statement is a " biologically productive portion of the Mill River just above where it flows into Southport Harbor and Long Island Sound."
Both the group and the Town of Fairfield intervened in Exide's DEEP application earlier this year and demanded improvements to Exide's remediation proposal. They both recently withdrew their objections after Exide made significant upgrades to its cleanup plan.
"From the beginning of this process, FairPLAN's concern has been for the successful removal of lead in and around the Mill River. While we do not feel that Exide's plan is as comprehensive as it could be, DEEP has assured us that if lead is discovered after the planned cleanup, Exide can still be held accountable for future lead remediation. We intend to rely on that assurance from DEEP as an important safeguard in the restoration of the Mill River area to the healthier condition it was in prior to decades of lead contamination," Kathryn Braun of FairPLAN said in a statement from the group.
The group says it is still concerned with a property next to the Exide site, saying that its possible that lead from the site seeped into the land. Also, drains and manhole structures could be "seriously damaged" by the acid run off from the old manufacturing processes used by Exide, it said.
“Our intervention, along with the town’s, has resulted in an improved strategy for cleaning Mill River," FairPLAN Chair Linda Snelham-Moore said. “While Exide could be doing more, the process of cleaning Mill River will at least begin soon with an upgraded effort.”
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