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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What types of contamination were found in the neighborhood and where did they come from?
  2. Where was contamination located?
  3. How do I know if there is contamination on my property?
  4. Who is responsible for the cleanup?
  5. What is the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's role in the clean-up?
  6. What are the possible health effects of the contamination in the Newhall neighborhood?
  7. Is my water safe to drink and use?
  8. Is it safe to garden and dig in the yard?
  9. Are the former school fields safe to play on?
  10. When will we be able to use Rochford Field and Peter Villano Park?
  11. When will the cleaning up of the former Hamden Middle School property start?
  12. Why is the Newhall neighborhood  a “Local Design District”?
  13. Who can I contact if I have more questions?

1. What types of contamination were found in the neighborhood and where did they come from?

Industrial and household wastes were placed in wetlands and other low-lying areas in the Newhall neighborhood from the late 1800s through the 1950s. A lot of the industrial waste came from the former Winchester Repeating Arms plant in New Haven and possibly from other nearby factories. Typical wastes found in different landfill areas in the neighborhood include scrap batteries, battery caps, scrap metal gun parts, shotgun shells, waste from metal smelting, ash, coal, slag, wood debris, newspaper, bottles, cans, pottery, and other decomposed household garbage. The main contaminants found in the waste include metals, like lead and arsenic, and compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are formed from burning things. Some of the contaminants may have been mixed with clean soil when the landfills were covered or when digging occurred to build houses. In addition, there is a narrow area of groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents that originates in deeper waste fill found on the former Hamden Middle School property. (back to top)

2. Where was contamination located?

Through review of historic aerial photos and documents and extensive soil and groundwater testing conducted between 2000 and 2008 by several parties (the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Town of Hamden, Olin Corporation and the Regional Water Authority), waste fill was found in the following locations:

Based on testing results a cleanup plan was developed and approved by DEP in 2007. Remediation of residential properties began in 2010 and was completed in 2012.

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3. How do I know if there is contamination on my property?

Extensive testing was done in the Newhall neighborhood. The results are listed on pages 33-40 of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Remedy Selection Plan. Each property in the Newhall Remediation Site is listed by street address and it will say how much (if any) waste fill was found on the property.  Between 2010 and 2012 all contamination was removed from residential properties down to a depth of four feet. Waste fill below four feet was covered with a marker barrier fabric.  The deep waste fill remains in place as it does not pose a hazard to human health.

4. Who is responsible for the cleanup?

Parties responsible for dumping the waste, as well as current and former owners of the contaminated properties, are sharing the responsibility for cleaning up the Newhall Remediation project site. Precisely who is responsible for what part of the testing and cleanup, was decided by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEP) and the parties through something called a ‘Consent Order’ that was adopted in 2003. The parties responsible for the testing and cleanup of different parts of the site are:
(Download areas of responsibilities image)

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5. What is the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's role in the clean-up?

DEEP is the state agency responsible for upholding environmental standards at the Newhall Remediation site and at contaminated sites throughout the state. Therefore, DEEP will oversee all phases of the investigation and clean up of the site to insure that the cleanup meets strict state standards. DEEP is also responsible for a public involvement program to keep the public informed throughout the clean up process, and paid 50% of the cost of cleanup in residential areas. (back to top)

6. What are the possible health effects of the contamination in the Newhall neighborhood?

The primary substances found in the waste (lead, arsenic, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) can be harmful to health ONLY if people come into direct contact with the waste or contaminated soil. If you are not exposed to a chemical, it won’t make you sick. (See Health for more health information). By the end of 2012, ALL residential properties were cleaned up and restored so residents can enjoy their properties without concern for their health. (back to top)

7. Is my water safe to drink and use?

Yes. Water in the Newhall neighborhood is provided by the Regional Water Authority from reservoirs that are tested routinely for a long list of contaminants. The Regional Water Authority tested tap water at approximately 25 homes in the neighborhood that requested testing in 2002. No contaminants from the waste were found in the tap water. (back to top)

8. Is it safe to garden and dig in the yard?

Yes. All contamination was removed to a depth of 4 feet. Normal gardening activities and tree planting does not reach below 4 feet.

If a resident needs to dig below four feet, for example to build an addition to the house or install an inground swimming pool, during the process of filing a building application permit required by the Town of Hamden  the property will be checked to determine if any contamination remains below four feet. If deep contamination exists at the property, the property owner will be able to utilize a special fund that will pay for the cost of safely removing and disposing of waste fill to accommodate the construction project. . (back to top)

9. Are the former school fields safe to play on?

Yes. The Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) has stated that the playing fields are safe. In the mid-1990s, a soil barrier was placed on the fields behind the former Hamden Middle School. The barrier keeps contact to a minimum between people and the lead that is present at high levels in the ground in several places on the field. In 1992, the DPH evaluated the data on lead in soil at the fields and determined that the fields were safe even without the barrier, provided that grass on the field was maintained and no digging occurred. Now that the barrier has been added as an extra precaution, you can be confident that the playing fields are safe. (back to top)

10. When will we be able to use Rochford Field and Peter Villano Park?

The cleanup of the two parks will be completed by late spring/early summer 2015. Hardscape surfaces such as tennis and basketball courts and play equipment will be opened in the fall 2015. Grassy areas and ball fields will not be available for play until spring 2016 to allow newly seeded grass to take root before being put into heavy athletic use.

11. When will the cleaning up of the former Hamden Middle School property start?

Negotiations between Hamden and a potential developer are on-going, so we cannot identify a start date. (back to top)

12. Why is the Newhall neighborhood  a “Local Design District”?

In 2009 the Town of Hamden passed new zoning regulations that created several Local Design Districts, each with different criteria intended to enhance the character of different neighborhoods. The boundaries of the Local Design District for the New­hall Neighborhood extend well beyond the area that had contaminated waste fill. Once the cleanup was completed, MOST of the properties in the Newhall Design District do not have ANY waste. For properties with deep waste fill remaining after cleanup, the Local Design District will notify current and future property owners that waste fill may exist below a depth of 4 feet on some of the properties in the neighborhood. This notification, through local zoning regulations, is intended to ensure that current and future property owners won’t be financially responsible for handling of deep waste fill that may be excavated in the future. A $2 million fund has been set aside to cover these future costs. (back to top)

13. Who can I contact if I have more questions?

There is a list of people to contact in the Contact Section of the website. Health questions should be directed to the State Department of Public Health or the Quinnipiack Valley Health District. Environmental and cleanup questions should be directed to Ray Frigon of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. (back to top)