Fairfield's Osborn Hill School Cleanup Costs Now At $820,000

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Work on Osborn Hill School's windows led to a PCB cleanup that has so far cost Fairfield an estimated $820,000. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s contaminant cleanup at Osborn Hill School has already cost $820,000, with much more on the way.

This summer, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were found in window caulking and fire-proofing materials in Osborn Hill School. PCBs have been banned since 1979 after studies found potential links to cancer.

Federal regulations require schools to remove or contain all materials with PCBs over certain levels. Fairfield has been working to comply with those regulations since the discovery and managed to get the majority of Osborn Hill cleared by the start of school.

The Board of Education approved its first major funding request for the work at the school Tuesday night. It will ask the town’s funding boards for more than $820,000 to cover the first round of cleanup costs. The money will pay for the work done to get the school ready to open in August, to reopen other areas of the school over the year and to rent a temporary gymnasium.

But the largest part of the project is not included in the latest number. Fairfield’s central administration has not yet ordered an estimate for the remediation of the school’s permanent gymnasium, where some of the highest PCB levels were found.

“That has not been addressed, other than some preliminary testing,” Superintendent David Title said of the work on the gymnasium and other improvements. “That will come forward as a separate capital project.”

Because of the work at Osborn Hill, Fairfield’s school board will not ask for any other major repairs to its schools. Usually, the school board asks for about $1 million in capital improvements as part of the annual budget process. This year, however, most of the school’s other planned work is so small it will be part of the regular budget.

“We were very fortunate last year. Basically all our projects got approved,” Title said. “So we’re sort of in a lull.”

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