The Connecticut State Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced asbestos was discovered during the Interstate 95 Exit 33 highway project. All construction and roadside maintenance activities in the surrounding stretch of the interstate are being prohibited “until the situation can be more completely assessed.”
The asbestos waste was caused by Raymark Industries—a manufacturer of auto brakes, clutch discs, and other friction components. Unfortunately, the contaminated soil was used as a fill in several areas around Stratford, Connecticut.
“The asbestos was detected during preliminary design work for this project. CTDOT found the presence of both Raymark Industries waste and asbestos in surface soils at several locations, although the source of the surface asbestos contamination has not been pinpointed,” said DOT.
Residents are worried about the dangerous substance becoming disturbed during the construction. Over 2,000 signatures were collected by Stratford Action for the Environment (SAFE) to fight against the project.
“This area was not previously investigated during the testing of more than 500 properties by EPA in the 1990s because there was no evidence of Raymark waste being dumped there,” said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Curt Spalding.
“Fortunately, in September, the EPA announced its final cleanup plan for several Raymark waste areas which provides funding and will allow the Exit 33 area to be addressed in a consistent manner that ensures protection of public health,” said Spalding.
Currently, a bedrock is keeping the asbestos from being disturbed, so residents say they’ll need volatile organic compound units if the project continues to move forward as officials expect it will next year.
According to DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino, “There is no reason to believe at this time that the asbestos, which is a known carcinogen, found at the Exit 33 project site is posing an exposure concern to workers or the community.”
Moving forward, a testing and monitoring program will be in place to measure asbestos levels in the air around Exit 33. DOT and the EPA will coordinate with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Department of Labor, ConnOSHA, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to respond to the asbestos soil contamination.
“The air and ground monitoring is a prudent and precautionary strategy. In the coming weeks, motorists may see crews along the highway conducting these tests,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker.
“To date, we are not aware of any adverse effects to anyone in this vicinity. We will continue to advise workers and the people of Connecticut as developments warrant,” said Redeker.