New London — Testing for contaminants in the groundwater and soil at the five-acre, city-owned site on Howard Street will continue over the next several weeks, and by August a plan for cleanup of the property is expected to be completed.
The testing began three weeks ago, after 16 test wells were dug for the extraction of groundwater samples, said Whitney Crawford, environmental scientist with Martin Brogie Inc., one of the three firms hired by the city do to the work.
The wells were placed according to the location of the businesses once on the property, which included a gas station, Hughie's restaurant and Rutberg Barrel, a company that recycled 55-gallon drums, and private homes, among others. Part of it was also used as a junkyard. Old bottles, scrap wood, bricks and other debris have been found there.
The property was originally part of Shaw's Cove, but over the years the waterfront was filled in for development.
"It's a complex site," Ned Hammond, the city's economic development coordinator, said last week. "We are finding some fill there that's not the cleanest. There are some soils there that are great and some that are not so great."
On Monday, Crawford was collecting five water samples from each of the 16 wells, pumping the water out with the aid of a Geoprobe extraction device. The samples will be tested for heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and volatile organic compounds, she said.
Brogie, president of the firm, said results of tests the soil samples collected thus far revealed arsenic, lead and some semi-volatile organic compounds, "but nothing too horrendous." Additional soil tests will be conducted to map out the contours of the contamination and determine if the contaminants are migrating so that a remediation plan can be developed, he said.
Depending on the outcome of additional tests, he said, the plan may recommend capping some or all of the property with pavement rather than removing the contaminated soils. It may also be possible to construct the cap as part of a development project.
The testing is being paid for with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The property is part of the 90-acre Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan and was cleared about 10 years ago by the New London Development Corp. It is zoned commercial and had been designed for offices or research and development space.
John Brooks, Fort Trumbull Development consultant for the NLDC, said the property may have to remediated before it is marketed to developers.
"Or development that would render the contamination inaccessible could be part of the solution," he said. "Commercial development, essentially offices, was expected, but it's not limited to that."