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Brook projects begin

Heavy metals to be removed

August 16, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Residents of Brookside Village will once again find their complex disrupted for a while starting later this month, as owner Meredith Management conducts what people hope to be the last phase of the Lebanon Brook PCB cleanup.

Not far away, but much less visible, is a similar cleanup which started late last week on the outskirts of the American Optical property. That one aims to take various toxic heavy metals out of an intermittent stream called Rouge Brook.

Both projects were approved months ago by the Conservation Commission, which aimed them for this time period (late August to early October) because it's typically the year's driest stretch.

In both cases, Chairman Ken Pickren recalled, the engineering is being done by Norwood-based GZA GeoEnvironmental and includes "a very detailed, elaborate plan to divert the brook's flow."

In Brookside, that will mean using inflatable dams to block off and dry up the north side of the brook, where the worst of the PCB and other contamination remains in the streambed and nearby slope. It's phase two of a cleanup that began in 2005, when a wider stretch of the apartment complex's property was dug up and hauled away for disposal. At that time, the less contaminated soil was buried in a containment cell that now resembles a small hill next to the office.

On Rouge Brook, the designs call for essentially creating a temporary streambed beside the real stream and rerouting any water that does flow during the work period. Since this work covers a fairly long stretch, rerouting will occur in sections, but no one's quite sure how much contamination exists in the sediments. In both cases, one key goal is to prevent any contaminated soil from being carried into the Quinebaug River.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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