Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Test the Soil and Protect the Aquifer and the Residents

May 22, 2003

Members of the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission:

Iím writing to express my deep concern for future residents and neighbors of the new development being planned on the Partrick Wetlands and to express my opposition for any development on the site.

Of course, Iím deeply concerned that buildings and infrastructure will destroy or damage the wetlands, disturb wildlife and take away another chunk of green space in Westport.

But Iím even more disturbed that construction on the site might release contaminants, including arsenic, into the aquifer, wetlands, and well water of Westport residents. It is my understanding that a gravel mine existed on the site for years and that arsenic is one of the by-products of the mine present on the site.

I urge you to demand that the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection perform extensive testing of the soil, ground water and wetlands before you approve development on this site.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to revise the existing 50 parts per billion (ppb) standard for arsenic in drinking water. On January 22, 2001 the EPA adopted a new standard and public water systems must comply with the 10 ppb standard beginning January 23, 2006.

10 parts per billion is an infinitesimal amount of arsenic.

The EPA is setting the new arsenic standard for drinking water at 10 ppb to protect consumers against the effects of long-term, chronic exposure to arsenic in drinking water.

Studies have linked long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. Non-cancer effects of ingesting arsenic include cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological, and endocrine (e.g., diabetes) effects. Short-term exposure to high doses of arsenic can cause other adverse health effects.

Higher levels of arsenic tend to be found more in ground water sources than in surface water sources (i.e., lakes and rivers) of drinking water.

Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, and plants and animals. It can be further released into the environment through natural activities such as volcanic action, erosion of rocks, and forest fires, or through human actions.

Human actions like the development that is about to occur on the Partrick Wetlands.

I donít know if any of you are scientists Ė Iím not. Simple common sense tells me that there is a need for objective scientific opinion on what consequences might occur if contaminated soil is disturbed on that site.

But you do know now what arsenic is, what damage it can do to us, and that it might be found at the Partrick Wetlands. Before you determine that this development is a good thing for the people of Westport you need to be sure that building on the site will not cause harm to any current or future resident of Westport.

Information creates awareness. With awareness comes responsibility. It is your responsibility to fully comply with the spirit and intent of federal law. It is your human duty to behave in a moral and compassionate manner.

You each need to ask yourself a question: How will I feel if a family gets sick or a child dies when I could have prevented it?


Patricia Taylor