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Students to return as spill cleanup continues

Preston - As the clean up continues at the Preston Veterans' Memorial School, students and staff will report back to classes as scheduled today.

On Dec. 28 a large fuel oil spill occurred in the school's boiler room. The oil that was released onto the cement floor seeped into a drain, which leads to the building's septic tank and leach field behind the school.

Since then, officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection and Kropp Environmental of Franklin, a private firm, have been working to remove the fuel oil from the leach field, after pumping out the septic tank.

As of Sunday, about 800 cubic yards of contaminated soil has been removed and stockpiled at the rear of the school so it can be trucked to a disposal location, according to DEP spokesman Dennis Schain.

Although the oil appears to have stayed within the leach field, Kropp is continuing to excavate the area and monitoring wells have been established to periodically check whether the oil has moved, Schain said.

Town Fire Marshal Thomas Casey said the school has been ventilated to remove any residual fumes from the oil spill. He intends to start investigating the cause of the spill today.

State and local officials, including Superintendent of Schools Jack Welch, had been concentrating their initial efforts on containing and cleaning the mess.

Welch said Sunday that aside from the requirement that bottled water be used for food preparation and drinking, the school is ready for students and staff to return. The service line in the boiler room has been replaced and the room has been professionally cleaned.

Also, because of the ongoing remediation at the rear of the school, all student drop-off and pick up will occur in the front.

In addition to the school, bottled water has been provided as a precaution to Play & Learn Child Development, a private day care facility located behind the property.

DEP officials are monitoring the wells for the school, day care and nearby shopping plaza and three residences. Last week, emergency cleanup officials said initial tests of the wells indicated that none of the oil had reached the drinking water in the wells.


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