Town officials have pledged to more closely monitor the removal of any commercial oil tanks in Easton. The move comes after the discovery of contaminated soil when two tanks were removed at the Easton Village Store and leaked onto a nearby resident’s property. Further contamination testing of the site is ongoing. A final report from an environmental contractor is due today, Sept. 15.
Steve Montgomery, the property owner and a member of the town’s Conservation Commission, reported the pollution on June 4, but he feels the town did not do all that it could to address his concerns despite his repeated emails to town officials.
At the Aug. 25 Board of Selectmen meeting, Montgomery once again aired his concerns regarding the lack of attentiveness towards the removal of the oil tanks by the town, as well as a lack of prompt response to the contaminated soil.
“Quite honestly, what I found most troubling through this entire process is the fact that despite numerous emails which were sent to many in local government, including everyone on this board, I received practically no help from the town on this issue,” said Montgomery at the meeting. “I didn’t receive a written response to any of my emails until (the week of Aug. 15) and the first time anyone met with me on this was (Aug. 24).”
According to reports, after the oil tanks were removed this spring by a contractor, mounds of dirt remained under a tarp in the parking lot of the Easton Village Store for an extended period of time. The contractor hired to remove the tanks reportedly did not know the soil was contaminated and spread it in the back of the Easton Village Store property over Montgomery’s property line. The origin and contents of the material used to fill the hole after the removal of the tanks is unknown, but the entire area has since been sealed and repaved.
The town’s Conservation Commission issued two citations to Marsel Huribal, the owner of the Easton Village Store, for having the work done within 100 feet of wetlands without a permit. Dori Wollen, the chairman of the conversation commission, said the commission feared seepage from the soil could have reached the Easton Reservoir that supplies much of Fairfield County with drinking water.
Despite the citations, Montgomery still expressed frustration that the town took no further action to remedy the situation. Montgomery said that he needed to pressure the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection himself to look into the contamination before any action was taken.
First Selectman Dave Bindleglass has said on several occasions that the town could have done a better job in responding to the complaints, and he has vowed that the town will be more vigilant going forward.
“The town definitely could have helped push this,” said Bindleglass at the Aug. 25 Board of Selectmen meeting. “Whether or not we would have been more successful or not, I don’t know, but nonetheless I agree … that we could have exerted more pressure.”
Photographs by Rick Falco