Suspected Trespasser Gets A Scrub-Down
by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 19, 2012 11:09 am
Posted to: Legal Writes, Fair Haven
As city and state officials met at English Station to discuss keeping people out of the abandoned former power plant, they spotted two men climbing over the fence.
Police nabbed one of the men, who had to be stripped and hosed down by the fire department to make sure he wasn’t contaminated with dangerous chemicals.
Jaquelyn Holiday, a case investigator with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said she met Thursday morning with staffers from the city health department and Livable City Initiative outside English Station to talk about the problem of people breaking into the property to try to steal scrap metal. The shuttered power plant looms over the Mill River on an island between Wooster Square and Fair Haven.
As Holiday and city officials were talking, they spotted two men climbing over the fence, leaving the property, Holiday said. They called the police, who caught one of the men at the corner of East and Grand Avenue.
The Fire Department was called in at about 10:45 a.m., according to Assistant Chief Ralph Black. Firefighters scrubbed down the man to decontaminate him.
Holiday said among the dangerous chemicals in English Station (pictured) are PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), highly toxic compounds that can cause cancer.
“We did a de-con of the person and left the DEEP with the run-off,” Black said.
Black described how the department does a “de-con,” which firefighters train for regularly, he said. First, firefighters put down plastic to prevent any run-off from going into the soil. Then, the man had to take off all his clothes.
“We set it up so dignity is given to the person,” Black said. Firefighters set up tarps to screen the naked man from the street, Holiday said.
The man was then hosed down with with a “decontamination line,” which is similar to a regular garden hose, but equipped with a special “wand” attachment, Black said. The man was also scrubbed with a brush and some kind of cleansing agent.
“There was lots of oil and film on him,” Black said.
Holiday said the man was homeless and had “cutting tools” for stealing scrap metal.
Once cleansed, the man was given a Tyvek jumpsuit to wear and taken to the hospital to be checked out, Black said.
The man’s clothes were bundled together with the run-off from his “de-con” shower, along with his clothes and some tarps. By 12:30 p.m., they were wrapped up in a large toxic dumpling on the lawn of the Grand Lighting light fixture company, waiting to be disposed of by DEEP.
Several inches of brown water stood at the bottom of the clear plastic package. The handle of a scrub brush emerged from the top, making the whole thing look a bit like a hobo’s bindle.
“We’re going to be really monitoring that English Station because lots of trespassing is going on,” Holiday said. “We don’t want anyone to be hurt.”
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I witnessed the hose down the guy was getting on the corner and have a couple of comments. First off with all the 20 or so cops there during the hose down not one was directing traffic on the corner of Grand and East and traffic was backing up in three directions because of this. Secondly its hard to imagine the need for what seemed to be 20 firefighters on the scene as well, all for one man who has probably been in the power plant 100 times before yesterday.
On the positive, I’m sure after all of that he wont do that again during daylight hours.
This plant has been closed for 20 years, it is a designated brownfield site. Why isn’t it cleaned up? UNITED ILLUMINATING: WHERE ARE YOU? You moved your offices out of New Haven and left this mess behind for all of us to deal with.
Chris Randall never got his hose down. Watch out, it may be retroactive.
I performed work on the English Station site (building a new sea wall around the island) about 10 years ago. The company I worked for was contracted by UI and was part of a deal to dump the property and avoid having to pay for decommissioning / clean-up of the site (which would have cost $10’s of millions).
They basically paid a company, Quinnipiac Energy I believe, $3-4 million to take it off their hands. The new sea wall being a giant band-aid to contain the contaminated soil, which eliminated any “imminent” concerns DEEP might have had. At the time I was there Quinnipiac employed 1 or 2 workers to “renovate” the plant, in a bid that ultimately failed, to restart the plant. From what I saw they were mostly removing anything and everything of value they could easily scrap.
The property has since changed hands at least one more time. UI has possibly distanced itself enough now to deny any responsibility in this toxic dump, and having done so for less than half the price of doing it right. Good for their bottom-line, not so good for New Haven who may be left holding the (de-con) bag.
Making UI clean this up will just give them an excuse to raise their rates.
As a more practical idea, we should raise income taxes on people like the guy mentioned below (to 90% for all income above $250,000), and use the proceeds from that to clean up the site.
FISCAL YEAR TOTAL COMPENSATION:
Mr. James P. Torgerson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The United Illuminating Company, New Haven, Connecticut.
It would be great if DEEP & the State of CT paid attention to neighborhoods where children actually live, not just power plants on islands. Look at the new gas station that is about to be built right across the street from where hundreds of children live, at the corner of Elm and Orchard Street in New Haven. Petrol stations have been proven to cause cancer in numerous studies, which is why thousands of places that are more progressive than New Haven ban them from being built right next to where kids live.
good comments everyone. I agree about the health hazards from fossil fuels, vehicle exhaust, gas stations, train stations, harbor ships, etc. - there are so many sources. Even so, New Haven’s air is cleaner than it used to be due to the hard work of a lot of people; our air is now “better than average” on a state level. That doesn’t mean that we can’t improve some more and that there aren’t areas of town that have very polluted air, unfortunately.
UI still carries liability for English Station on their financial forms (I can’t remember which ones, sorry); they are still responsible. Changing hands multiple times does not remove their obligation to do the right thing after having made a lot of money for their shareholders, company executives and capital holding company. They bought a natural gas distributor business within the past few years; why are they allowed to expand into natural gas resources (for power generation?) when they haven’t cleaned up the mess at English Station?