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Briarcliff Schools Still Remediating Fields

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – The Briarcliff School District is still working to test and remediate two athletic fields in the middle school/high school complex 13 years after contaminated fill was used to construct the fields.

Two presentations on the field remediation issue will be made to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. at the Briarcliff Middle School theater.

Scheduled topics for the presentations include a retrospective, understanding the state Department of Environmental Conservation Consent Order, deciphering a soil sample report, the toxicologist's report, standards for remediation, remediation options, use of fields and remediation financing.

According to documents on a school district website, about 100,000 cubic yards of fill were brought to the middle school/high school complex by Whitney Trucking in 1998 as part of a "fill for fields" program. The fill was placed in at least two locations: in front of the school where the parking lot and practice field currently are, and behind the school where the "Little League" ball field is.

The trucking company produced records showing that the fill met state DEC requirements, but these records were later discovered to be false, the school district website says.

In 1999, state DEC inspectors issued a violation to the Briarcliff School District for having fill material in their practice field are that did not meet their criteria for clean, "exempt" material. Tests done by an environmental consulting firm, Leggette Brashears and Graham showed that there was tar-like petroleum and petroleum odors in parts of the field.

The school district paid for the petroleum-contaminated fill to be removed and disposed of. Other "non-exempt" material including plastic, wire and other construction debris were also found, but LBG stated that this material did not pose a risk to health or the environment, and believed that it also did not pose any threat to groundwater.

The field remediation issue might have come to a close in 2003 had the school district complied with a state DEC Consent Order that required the district to do additional groundwater sampling and to submit detailed plans for how the fields were to be capped or otherwise cleaned up.

Instead, in December 2004, the school deposited additional fill in the field, expanded the field and covered up monitoring wells. Since this was done without approval by the state DEC of a work plan, the DEC violation remains open.

In 2007, the school district hired another environmental consulting firm, Woodward and Curran, to sample the practice field and also the Little League field. The school district is now cooperating with the state DEC to try to close the violation.

Several calls to Briarcliff Assistant Superintendent of Business and Technology Stuart Mattey for comment on the fields remediation issue and why it has taken so long to resolve were not returned in time for publication.

Are you concerned about contamination in the Briarcliff schools' fields? Leave a comment below or join on Facebook.

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