Report shows contamination at Easton Village Store is worse than city said

EASTON — One of the store’s neighbors in the village of Easton is concerned about an environmental report he says shows contamination from old fuel tanks is worse than the town has said.

The three oil tanks, along with the embankment surrounding them, were removed in February. This dirt was held up on a tarp in the parking lot of the Easton Village store, until a separate contractor, who was unaware it was contaminated, spread it on the rear property line between the store and property of resident Steve Montgomery.

Montgomery, who is also a member of the Conservation Commission, told elected officials at their recent meeting that he contacted the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection after “about a month of really promising empties” to move the filling of the owner of the Easton Village Store, Marcel Hurbel, and no action by the town.

“Once DEEP got involved in the situation, within a week the filler was removed,” Montgomery said during the meeting.

Montgomery said he largely considered the issue over after that, but a March report from the environmental specialist hired by Hurbel came to light that contained disturbing information about contaminants in groundwater and soil.

The report, Montgomery said, contradicts claims by officials — including that the public water supply was never in jeopardy, that there was no further contamination, and that environmental officials did not were largely unaffected.

In the document, which was obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media, Advanced Environmental Redevelopment reports that oil was found on the surface of the water about eight to 10 feet deep. The report also indicates that the groundwater and soil remaining on site still contain contaminants.

The contamination comes from leaks from previous tanks that were removed about 25 years ago, according to Hurbel and city officials.

Reached by phone Monday, Hurbel said the process took so long because he had to ship the fill to New Jersey since the Connecticut site closed for the contaminated fill. He said he doesn’t know if the soil and groundwater are still contaminated and that he will leave it in the hands of city and DEEP officials, as well as environmental officials. He added that whatever needs to happen will be done.

The report also includes the specialist’s recommendations, including further testing of groundwater and soil, as well as wells at neighboring properties.

“Obviously this environmental engineer was concerned about the site conditions,” Montgomery said. “Furthermore, DEEP is actively preparing an action plan regarding additional steps to be taken to test and possibly remediate the site. To say that no DEEP or environmental official is involved is simply not true.

Paul Copleman, a spokesperson for DEEP, said in an email that the DEEP Emergency Response Unit was made aware of the improper land use on July 8 and ordered that the soil that had been originally removed with the oil tank be removed from the parking lot where it was reapplied. . The unit’s report is in progress.

The department is also working with the owner and its consultant on other site work, including surveys and surveys of contaminated soil and remaining groundwater where the tank had been stored, Copleman said.

Copleman said non-residential underground storage tanks, including those for oil, petroleum and chemical liquids, are regulated by DEEP to protect human health and the environment. He said discharges from these tanks must be reported to the agency and remediation must be carried out by landowners and licensed contractors led by environmental professionals under the supervision of DEEP.

“Owners and operators are responsible for the compliance, maintenance, testing and eventual removal of their tanks,” he said.

It should also be noted that Copleman said there are no legal restrictions preventing municipalities such as Easton from being involved in tank removal.

“We always aim to work cooperatively and transparently with cities, and different cities may have different regulations and enforcement mechanisms governing tank removal,” Copleman said. “While there are state and federal cleanup criteria applied to some reservoirs, there are no restrictions on local government involvement.”

In early August, first selectors David Bindelglass said the main reason this issue has taken so long to be on the city’s radar is that municipalities don’t have jurisdiction over the removal of commercial tanks, only DEEP l ‘has. He said the city plans to take the necessary steps to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Meanwhile, residents are concerned the soil, which has since been removed, may have contaminated wetlands, nearby residents’ wells and even the Easton Reservoir. Bindelglass and Hurbel said DEEP told them those concerns were mostly unwarranted.

At the selectors’ meeting, Montgomery said he wanted assurances that his family is not at risk from contaminants and that any remaining pollution will be remedied. He later noted that his well had been tested and no contaminants were found.

Bindelglass said at the meeting that the city could have helped resolve the issue more quickly.

“We could have applied more pressure,” he said.

Bindelglass said officials were discussing allowing commercial tanks at Easton, but said it was unclear whether this was legally allowed. He also said he meant in previous comments that the public water supply from Easton Reservoir was not in danger – and was not talking about neighboring properties.

“There are a number of things we need to do better,” he said.

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