EPA earmarks $23 million to fast-track Stratford toxic waste cleanup

Decades after the effort began, the Environmental Protection Agency is earmarking $23 million to speed up toxic waste cleanup at dozens of Raymark Industries dumping sites in Stratford.
"There is a huge amount of waste," said Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick.
EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe announced the money on Thursday. It comes from the new federal infrastructure law Congress passed last year.
For longtime neighbors, it's welcome news.
"It's been going on a long time," McCabe said. "It doesn't take 30 years to clean up a site. It takes 30 years of building the resources over time, because these are expensive, expensive projects."
Raymark was one of the nation's biggest brake pad manufacturers until it went bankrupt in 1989, amid mounting asbestos lawsuits from workers. The EPA says the company dumped everything from lead to arsenic at more than 70 sites across Stratford, including in residential neighborhoods.
One of the sites was Raybestos Memorial Field, where the world champion Brakettes softball team played for decades – on top of potentially deadly chemicals. The extra $23 million will consolidate toxic waste from multiple sites at the field, then permanently cap it so the land will finally be safe for redevelopment.
McCabe estimates the project will now be finished by early 2025.
The state of Connecticut is chipping in, too. Last week, the State Bond Commission approved $3.5 million in borrowing to help the cleanup. That's on top of $4.5 million previously allocated.
Remediation across Stratford has continued on and off since the early 1990s. The Raymark factory site, which contained 15 acres of dangerous toxins, is now a Home Depot shopping center off I-95.
Hoydick is looking forward to returning the old Raybestos Memorial Field to the tax rolls. She said the town is considering light industry or perhaps a larger-scale storage facility for the site.
"It could be a lot of things, and that's where the community becomes involved," said Hoydick.
Even though the old softball field will be done in about 2 ½ years, there are still other cleanup sites. The EPA doesn't have an estimate when they'll be finished.
According to the agency, Raymark originally contributed $40 million to cleanup efforts. Taxpayers have covered the rest.