The Library Will Re-open, But When?

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That’s about the best one can say as the Permanent Building Commission chooses alternatives for proceeding. They are confident the problem of PCB contamination in the old portion of the expanded building can be solved, and they are now moving ahead with recommendations made by Robert May of Fuss & O’Neill, a noted expert on the subject.

Permanent Building Commission Chairman Joe Sangiovanni summed up the situation something like this at the Commission’s June 2 meeting: We responded to the known contamination in the window caulking and nearby surfaces by removing and replacing the material. Then we tested the air in the building and found PCB content exceeding the EPA’s stringent limits. Now we’re planning how to respond.

Mr. May’s detailed observations and recommendations were contained in a four-page letter which was distributed and discussed at that meeting. Sangiovanni said he hoped a plan could be established at the next meeting (on June 16). It seems there’s no silver bullet.

At the June 16 meeting, Mr. May spoke about the pilot testing he had proposed and what it would accomplish in diagnosing the problem.  He warned that the required remediation costs could not be estimated now, and it was possible that the pilot tests would be inconclusive.

The Commission voted to proceed with the proposed tests, at a cost of about $44,000.  The tests will entail sealing off four selected local regions of the library with plastic sheeting and then measuring the PCB levels on surfaces and in the air.  Other contractors would perform the tests, under Mr. May’s cognizance.

Testing would be done with normal ventilation, and only after the HVAC balance had been assured.  Air balance tests have been delayed by slow progress on the new air diffusers and difficulty in obtaining certain needed air filters.

In the Public Works Department, Julie Oakes, Town Facilities Manager, has been obtaining rough  quotations or cost estimates for various courses of action, mostly involving clean-up and encapsulation (the two-dollar word for painting or sealing off contamination that can’t readily be removed).

First Selectman Melissa Mack, at the June 16 meeting, commented on the daunting cost estimates with what appears to be the understatement of the month. She said, “This is an issue!”  She spoke of the possibility of help from certain state grants the Town is seeking.

The status of the required auditorium egress corrections that have been identified is not the Commission’s first priority now.

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