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Agencies Provide Update on Mercury Contamination in Killingly, Conn. EPA, CT DEP and NDDH Continue to Address Environmental Impacts; No Public Health Implications at This Time
Release Date: 03/30/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(Killingly, Conn. - March 30, 2007) – The Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH) continues to work closely with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding mercury contamination discovered on Putnam Road in Killingly.
“Our involvement is to monitor the situation for any potential public health implications,” reported Linda J. Colangelo, Public Information Officer for NDDH. “At this time, we have not received any reports of illness associated with the contamination. The investigation is on-going and the EPA and DEP are currently conducting air monitoring tests and analyzing surface water samples and soil data in the affected area.”
Since arriving at the site on Wednesday, EPA has conducted a preliminary investigation of the site and drilled test holes into the pavement and surrounding soil to identify the lateral extent of the contamination. EPA also conducted air monitoring at three of the six homes near the site. The testing did not show any airborne traces of mercury. EPA is attempting to contact the other three nearby owners so that those homes can also be tested.
“EPA operations will continue until health and environmental threats are addressed, with our first priority being to protect the public and then to stabilize the site,” said Dan Wainberg, EPA’s On Scene Coordinator. “As we carefully work to remove the mercury from the roadside, we will continuously monitor the air to ensure that public health is being protected.”
Over the weekend, EPA will complete preparations for removing the mercury, including evaluating various options for recovering the mercury and bringing additional personnel and equipment to the site. Additional recovery efforts will begin early next week. At this time, the road remains closed and there is 24-hour security at the site. The road will remain closed for the foreseeable future. The source of the mercury contamination has not been identified.
Elemental mercury is a liquid form heavier than water; two tablespoons weigh about one pound. While it is approximately less than a half gallon of liquid that was spread over an area that measured 8-feet by one-foot in diameter, officials considered this volume of mercury in the environment to be a significant event.
Water samples that were taken from surface water adjacent to the contamination site returned with negative results. DEP officials are still awaiting results on additional air, soil, and sediment testing but have determined that residential wells do not have to be tested at this time.
“The closest wells are uphill from the site and about one-tenth of a mile away,” said Jeff Chandler, Supervisor, DEP Division of Emergency Response and Spill Prevention. “There is also surface water between the site and those wells, and there is no evidence of mercury in that surface water. We will continue to work with federal, state and local officials to determine the source of this spill and take appropriate action if it is determined this was an intentional act.”
“The local health department is also looking ahead to another potential concern, the start of fishing season on April 21st,” said Colangelo. “DEP and the Connecticut Department of Public Health are currently evaluating whether portions of the Five Mile River and its tributaries will need to remain closed to fishing pending the results of future tests. More information will be available in the coming days. In the meantime, we urge people to avoid this area while the investigation continues.”
For more information:
More information on mercury spills : (epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/mercury/faq/spills.htm)
Northeast District Department of Health – Linda J. Colangelo, Public Information Officer - 860-774-7350 x. 14
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection – Dwayne Gardner, 860-424-3938
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