Parcel C cleanup budget exceeded

NAUGATUCK — Just weeks after officials assured the project was within its $1.1 million budget, cleanup at Parcel c, the 2.2-acre, borough-owned tract at the corner of Maple and Water streets and the first step in the $710 million Renaissance Place project, is over budget.

The cost to remediate Parcel C was originally set at $1.1 million, and will now cost the borough $1.7 million.

The added costs stem from the need for Manafort Brothers, the contractor working on the site, to truck off contaminated soil and bring it to a landfill. The soil is contaminated with semi-volatile coal and coal ash, which cannot be built upon in the state of Connecticut.

Officials initially thought the coal and coal ash would respond to an oxidizing chemical agent. There were certain rounds of tests in which it did, but the oxidant failed on several occasions and results were getting progressively worse as testing went on.

At this point the approach changed from trying to oxidize the chemicals to trying to encapsulate the chemicals under a proposed, 500-spot parking garage to be erected on the north side of the parcel. Not all of the contaminated soil, however, can fit underneath the structure, and the overflow needs to be removed.

Mayor Bob Mezzo acknowledged the price increase would not hurt the borough significantly because additional funds were reserved for the cleanup effort. The borough has set aside $1.731 million for remediation efforts at Parcel C, leaving the net deficit at $7,509.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses allocated the transfer of that amount to the Parcel C cleanup efforts Tuesday at a special meeting of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses. The transfer was approved unanimously. The funds were allocated from last year’s budget, which had about an $800,000 surplus, according to controller Wayne McAllister.

Only a small percentage of the soil at Parcel C is being extracted. Expenses would have been significantly higher had the borough needed to ship off all of the contaminated soil and the proposed budget would have been drastically surpassed by over $1 million. Having most of the soil kept on-site, untreated and encapsulated, saves the borough on treatment and removal costs.