Stratford condos test negative for toxic air

The indoor air at a Ferry Court condominium complex near the Raymark Superfund site is clear of toxins,  environmental officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested the air at Village Square Condominiums over a 24-hour period last week as part of a project aimed at determining whether a 500-acre pool of severely polluted groundwater extends beneath the 68-unit condo complex.

Officials said they did not expect to find toxins in the air, but conducted the tests to be sure in conjunction with a groundwater monitoring well installation project.

Wells have been installed on the condo property and on nearby Orchard Street and will be used to determine whether the toxic water pool extends beneath that area, said Ron Jennings, a longtime EPA project manager for Raymark waste remediation.

The issue is not that the groundwater pool is moving, but that there aren’t enough wells for regulators to determine its precise footprint, Jennings said.

More than 30 groundwater monitoring wells have been installed in the neighborhood adjacent to the complex. No additional wells have been installed since 2003, Jennings said.

The groundwater here is not used for drinking. But when it’s contaminated, it releases a toxic gas that permeates the soil and disperses into the air. The gas can enter homes through plumbing gaps and cracks in the foundation. When trapped within four walls, the toxins become concentrated and potentially hazardous to breathe.

The indoor air quality test results show that the toxins are not rising from the groundwater into the condo building, but regulators have not yet determined whether the groundwater itself is toxic there.

If the EPA finds contaminated groundwater beneath the condominiums, the property would likely be adopted into the Superfund program, Jennings said.

Jennings said the groundwater test results will be available in about a month.