Beneath the surface of the lower Mill River lies lead and other waste from the former Exide battery plant. The company has announced a plan to clean the river, but some neighbors and conservationists fear what the work could stir up. (Fairfield Sun/Shawn O'Sullivan)

The state Department of Environmental Protection has extended the deadline for comment on a proposal by Exide to dredge the lower Mill River in an effort to remove lead contamination left by the company’s battery making operation.

The extension comes after a hearing at which questions were raised by residents and conservations, including Nutmeg TU representatives.

Nutmeg TU President Chuck Petruccelli told The Fairfield Sun that the chapter’s members are being encouraged to express opposition to Exide’s plan.

The Sun’s article also included views of the proposal from Nutmeg TU’s conservation chairman.

“Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. As such, we have been following Exide’s remediation effort with great interest for many years,” said Ross Ogden, conservation chairman for Nutmeg TU Chapter 217. “We are encouraged to see a Remedial Action Plan come together, but we do have some substantial concerns that echo those expressed by the town of Fairfield’s Conservation Department, among others. First, we question the wisdom of any Remedial Action Plan for lead-impacted river sediment that does not include a comparable action plan for chromium-impacted river sediment. Second, we do not believe Exide has done enough to evaluate and explain the environmental risks potentially associated with in-water dredging activity during the spawning season. Lastly, we have yet to see any plan to restore the river to its natural state once the dredging is complete. A true remediation effort would include refilling the dredged holes with clean soil, restoring the river bottom with structural habitat, including rock and logs, and finally, replanting the river banks with native plant species.”

A Connecticut Post report also quoted residents questioning the proposal. One asked if the river itself is deep enough for the dredging proposed by Exide.

After a subsequent meeting of the Fairfield Conservation Commission, the Fairfield Citizen reported  that the commission focused on “Exide’s proposal to discharge sediment-cleansed water back into Mill River during the dredging operation — because the deadline for public comment on that application is Feb. 7.”

More details and links will be posted as the story develops.

    1 Comment

    1. Alan Boyd
      February 8th

      Exide has been playing a game with Fairfield where the Mill River is concerned. Its time that someone or some organization, preferably the DEEP, let Exide know that hey cannot do a half way job on the remediatoinof the Mill River. It has to be done correctlyand at the correct time.

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