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Oil Spill From Norwalk School Contaminates Pond

Updated 2 p.m.:

NORWALK, Conn. – The smell of oil remained in the area Thursday as hundreds of gallons of oil stemming from a weekend spill at a Norwalk school was still being cleaned up by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection .

About 300 gallons of fuel oil has been recovered from a retention pond in the Sunrise Hill condominium complex, said Dwayne Gardner of DEEP's communications office. It came from West Rocks Middle School, and DEEP is not sure whether that is all the oil. "The cleanup is still ongoing," Gardner said Wednesday.

Maintenance was being done on an oil line that went to the school's burner, Gardner said. "Over the weekend it failed, so it spilled oil in the vicinity of the boiler," he said. Gardner didn't know whether the boiler was in the basement, but the oil entered the drainage system, then a catch basin and then a local stream. It then made its way to the retention pond.

Residents of the complex complained of a strong fuel oil smell Tuesday, and authorities found the spill, he said. "We were out there yesterday, and we were out there today, and we will be out there for the foreseeable future," he said. "The school district has hired an environmental contractor to recover the oil and to remediate any contamination. We'll be out there supervising that."

The stink of heating oil hung heavy in the air around the pond Thursday morning, and small fish swam slowly near the surface of the grayish water. There were a few dead fish in the gutter of Sunrise Hill Road, next to the pond. A worker from Herbert Recovery Systems Inc. carried a piece of plywood behind the condo opposite the pond and said he was trying to block a storm drain.

Gardner did not know how much the cleanup might cost. "We'll have to determine what's been contaminated, working with the contractor, and that will determine where our cleanup will go."

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