STRATFORD, Conn. — Asbestos has been found in the soil at the site of the planned Exit 33 project on I-95 in Stratford, which could put the project in jeopardy, the state Department of Transportation said.
Preliminary indications are that there is no immediate threat to public health, DOT and the Department of Public Health announced last Friday.
Air and ground sampling and monitoring will be conducted after the contaminant was found in the soil at the site, the two agencies said.
“There is no reason to believe at this time that the asbestos, which is a known carcinogen, found at the Exit 33 project site is posing an exposure concern to workers or the community,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino.
The DOT project will involve the design and reconstruction of Exit 33 on I-95 in Stratford. But at this time, there is no construction activity occurring in the vicinity.
The asbestos was detected during preliminary design work.
DOT found the presence of both Raymark Industries waste and asbestos in surface soils at several locations, although the source of the surface asbestos contamination has not been pinpointed.
“This area was not previously investigated during the testing of more than 500 properties by EPA in the 1990s because there was no evidence of Raymark waste being dumped there," said EPA’s Regional Administrator, Curt Spalding.
"Fortunately, in September, EPA announced its final cleanup plan for several Raymark waste areas which provides funding and will allow the Exit 33 area to be addressed in a consistent manner that ensures protection of public health,” Spalding said.
DOT officials surveyed the site last week to determine a plan, which will include a testing and monitoring program to measure specific air soil asbestos levels, followed by any specific recommendations once the data is collected and analyzed.
The testing is expected to begin in mid- to late November. Furthermore, DOT is suspending any roadside maintenance activities through this stretch of I-95 until the situation can be more completely assessed.
“The air and ground monitoring is a prudent and precautionary strategy,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “In the coming weeks, motorists may see crews along the highway conducting these tests. To date, we are unaware of any adverse effects to anyone in this vicinity. We will continue to advise workers and the people of Connecticut as developments warrant.”
DOT is in ongoing consultation with the EPA regarding the new Raymark waste findings. DOT’s response to the surface asbestos contamination is being coordinated with the DPH, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Department of Labor and ConnOSHA – the Connecticut arm of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“We are working closely with DOT, state and local health agencies, and the U.S. EPA to ensure that this area is managed in a manner that minimizes risk to public health or the environment,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “Our goal is to work together to make certain the public and on-site workers are protected from exposures to any contaminated soil both now and in the future.”
Stratford has been home to companies such as Raymark Industries and Tilo Roofing Co. that used asbestos in their products for decades.
DOT has identified a previously unknown deposit of Raymark waste located below the surface and not known to have been disturbed in the recent Moses Wheeler Bridge reconstruction activities.