DEEP to Test Water on Lyme Street After Fuel Oil Leak at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School

Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT


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LYME/OLD LYME — The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is investigating an oil spill that happened at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in August.  

Residents in the Lyme Street area received a letter from Kropp Environmental Contractors, the company that the district contracted with, informing them that the company would need to take samples of their well water “out of an abundance of caution.” The letter said that the sampling was required by DEEP because of the oil spill. 

Deborah Wade, who lives at 61 Lyme Street, down the road from the school, said the first she had heard about the spill was when she received the letter from Kropp.

“I am very concerned that this happened in August and we just found out this week — the homeowners,” said Wade. “I just don’t understand why there wasn’t more concern in notifying the homeowners out in front of the school.”

According to a report from Ron Turner, director of facilities and finance for the district, that was read at the Aug. 3 board of education meeting, the district discovered that one of the fuel supply lines was leaking oil onto the floor on Aug. 1. Most of the oil was caught in the boiler room’s drain system, but an unknown quantity of oil had leached into the soil. 

In the initial report, Turner estimated that around 1,600 gallons of fuel oil was spilled, 600 of which were reclaimed from the boiler room, leaving 1,000 gallons unaccounted for — although subsequent estimates provided by the school officials to CT Examiner and the public suggested that the number may be lower.  

Superintendent Ian Neviaser told CT Examiner that the district immediately contacted DEEP and was contracting with an environmental company and a 3rd party company to monitor the situation. 

Turner said at a January Board of Education meeting that the district had drilled test wells around the building, and that he would provide any updates as they came in.  

Board of Education Chair Steve Wilson told CT Examiner that he was aware of the spill, and that it was discussed at the board’s Facilities and Finance Committee meeting this month, along with the update at the regular board meeting in January.

Wilson told CT Examiner that no one from  the public had contacted the Board of Education about the oil spill. 

“It concerns me that people are concerned and didn’t contact the board,” he said.

Neviaser told CT Examiner that there was no evidence so far that any of the neighboring properties had been affected by the spill. 

Wade said that she had spoken to Sally Kropp from Kropp Environmental Contractors, and that Kropp told her it was a surface spill. According to Wade, the company wanted to test the well water now and possibly again in a few months. 

Wade said she felt that “something slipped through the cracks” when it came to notifying the neighbors about the spill. 

She said she and other neighbors planned to write a letter to the Board of Education. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection did not respond to questions about the investigation by the time this piece was published.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.