Gas Spill Updates

Containment began immediately/Jonathan Barbagallo

On November 5, 2022, a tanker truck overturned on Route 44, spilling 8200 gallons of gasoline. This page presents gas spill updates from the Town of Norfolk Emergency Management Committee; see the most recent information below. Please direct questions or inquiries to the Selectmen’s Office: 860-542-5829.

With remediation of the gas spill complete except for continued testing, the Torrington Area Health District this week sent letters to two families still displaced from their Route 44 homes telling them that they can now go home. “The letters said the homes now meet acceptable criteria, so they can move back,” said First Selectman Matt Riiska. He said he did not know what the families would decide. 

Since November 2022 the Town has paid for temporary housing for the families, which will end now that the houses have been cleared. “To the best of my knowledge, that’s our position,” Riiska said. “Torrington Area Health and the Department of Health are saying the houses meet the criteria and standards for occupation.” The standard is based on occupancy “24 hours a day, 350 days a year for 30 years.”

“We have been reimbursed by insurance, so that has worked out,” Riiska said. “Our attorneys are still working with the insurance companies to document everything.”

It is believed that all the contamination on Maple Avenue has been remediated, according to First Selectman Matt Riiska. Riiska had just emerged from a meeting with all the agencies concerned with the cleanup. “Things have been progressing a little slower on Maple Avenue because of other work we had to do,” he said, “but we will start next week with drainage work and will work as long as we can into the winter. The way we left it, we just have to make sure when Guerrera Construction starts, that any water that collects gets tested.”

A gas spill meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 24, at 7:00 p.m. at Botelle School, 128 Greenwoods Road East. Everyone is invited to attend. Cleanup is almost completed, but monitoring will continue for some time.

See the Resources column at right for a three-part recording of the August 15th meeting.

Gas spill testing will continue another year, according to information released at August 15th’s informational meeting, ten months after last November’s massive gas spill. The meeting was lightly attended and mild-mannered, according to First Selectman Matt Riiska. “I don’t think there were 20 people there,” Riiska said. Meetings held before this spring’s remediation work got underway were sometimes tense as residents sought information about properties compromised when an overturned tanker truck sent 8,200 gallons of gas spreading across the landscape. Jeffrey King and Zachary Smith, representatives of Verdantas, the company overseeing reclamation of the land, and Robert Brown, an industrial hygienist from Pennoni, were present to answer questions.

“We’re very close to meeting the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s [DEEP’s] requirements,” Riiska reported, “but DEEP has asked for additional data. They want to be absolutely sure [of the cleanup]. Things like this don’t happen all that often.”

Verdantas reported it put in 64 test wells to monitor the spread of contaminants. Some of those monitors were removed during remediation and new ones were installed. “Verdantas is expanding that coverage because of the natural migration [of the pollutants,]” Riiska said. “There is still testing to do. At first, they thought they would test for a year; now it’s two because they keep finding old water lines, sewer lines and storm drains where gas collected. They even found an old septic system where it was pooling—but generally, things are much better.”

Remediation is extensive on Maple Avenue near Pettibone Lane. Because of what was found there, a sewer line was moved to allow further digging. “Another construction company is involved in that,” Riiska said. “It’s slow going because so many are working in that area.”

Progress is being made on Maple Avenue between Pettibone Lane and Laurel Way. Storm drains have been installed as part of the larger Maple Avenue upgrade planned before the gas spill. Guerrera is removing asphalt and re-establishing the road base. It is also working on the sidewalk in front of Manor House.  “They hope to put down the binder course soon,” said Riiska.

Another informational meeting on last November’s gas spill is planned for Tuesday, August 15, at 7:00 p.m. in Botelle School.

Another informational meeting on last November’s gas spill and its cleanup is being planned for August 8.

Everyone, please be aware of all the construction work taking place on Maple Avenue. Pedestrians and dog walkers are especially asked not to go through the remediation area. For your own safety and the safety of the workers please give them the space to work.

Work will begin Monday, June 19, on remediation of Maple Avenue following last November’s massive gas spill. Work will begin near the Manor House where a wall will be removed and its materials stored for later reconstruction. Earth will be excavated, tested and removed when deemed necessary. Work will then move to installation of a headwall on Maple Avenue as part of the stormwater drainage system. With that in place, crews will move on to Pettibone Lane, where extensive excavation is anticipated to remove gas contamination. Maple Avenue will be closed to through traffic during the work because of the heavy equipment in the road. If necessary, residents in the region of the heaviest contamination will have alternate accommodations offered.

Remediation work has been completed on Route 44 and landscaping has been started. It is hoped that families displaced by the gas spill remediation will be back in their homes by July 1, but monitoring of the area will go on for some time and will be addressed as needed.

Residents who have questions should call the First Selectman’s office at 860-542-5829.

ESI is moving equipment to Maple Avenue in anticipation of starting the remediation/reconstruction at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Pettibone Lane on Monday, June 19. During this work Maple Avenue in the area of Pettibone Lane will be closed, with access limited to local residents only. Signs are being set up at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Laurel Way and at the intersection of Terrace View & Maple Avenue informing drivers and walkers of the road closure. Please obey the signs. Walkers, please do not walk through the construction site.

Links to a three-part recording of the May 23 update meeting are posted in the Resources column on the right-hand side of this page.

There will be another gas spill update meeting on Tuesday, May 23, at 7:00 p.m. at Botelle School. The meeting will cover current project updates and the upcoming remediation and reconstruction at the Pettibone Lane/Maple Avenue location.

Links to a four-part recording of the March 7 gas spill update meeting are posted in the Resources column at the right-hand side of this page.

Norfolk’s fourth gas cleanup meeting revealed plans for spring remediation. Read more in Community News.

Verdantas has supplied a draft work plan for the remediation work scheduled to begin this month in Norfolk. It is posted in the Resources section on the right-hand side of this page.

Three new documents from the Connecticut Department of Health have been posted in the Resources at the right, supplied in response to questions that arose at the February 28 public meeting. The next meeting will be Tuesday, March 7.

Tomorrow’s gas spill update meeting has been RESCHEDULED because of the impending snowstorm to Tuesday, March 7, at 7:00 p.m. at Botelle School.

There will be an informational meeting at Botelle School on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

As promised when all this began, First Selectman Matt Riiska is working to finalize another of his monthly public meetings at Botelle School to update people on the gas spill monitoring and cleanup. The date will be announced here as soon is it’s final.

Read a short news item about Norfolk’s January 31, 2023, town meeting, written by website editor Kathryn Boughton, then listen to the whole thing. Links to a six-part recording of the meeting have been posted under Resources at the right hand side pf this page.

There will be a third public information meeting Tuesday, January 31, at 7:00 p.m. at Botelle School to update progress being made on the cleanup following the November 5 gas spill. Most recently, the Aquarion Water Company has completed installing a new pipeline on Hillside Street. The company had intended to replace the line anyway, but moved up the job after the gas spill. The excavation has been roughly patched until spring.

In the latest from Town Hall, First Selectman Matt Riiska says that another gas spill informational meeting will be held at the end of the month. In the meantime, monitoring of contamination continues. “The work is pretty minimal right now, but they are still doing a lot of testing,” he said. All Route 44 residents are currently back in a domicile—either their own or, as in the case of the family that rented No. 97 Greenwoods Road, in a nearby house. The families most affected will have to move again when excavation work resumes and stirs up contamination. “We’re working right now on finding places for them to stay,” Riiska said. Extensive gas spill remediation is needed near Pettibone Lane, and that work will have to be completed before all the improvements planned for Maple Avenue are made. 

Listen to a recording of the December 20 Town Meeting, with the latest information about the gas spill. See also the update by Verdantas.

A Town Meeting will be held Tuesday, December 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Botelle School to give the public the latest information about remediation efforts following the November 5 gas spill. The selectmen have promised monthly meetings while the cleanup continues.

Reclamation work on Route 44 continues, although some delays have occurred. First Selectman Matt Riiska hopes to have families there back in their homes by Christmas. At the same time, Aquarion Water Company has decided to run a new water line up Hillside Street, off Maple Avenue, to ensure that three homes served by two private wells do not suffer from contamination from the spill. “Nothing is back to normal,” Riiska said. “A lot of people don’t understand the magnitude of this spill, that this is largest gasoline spill ever in Connecticut.”

Links to a 4-part sound recording of the November 15 town meeting held to discuss the gas spill have been added to this page under “Resources” in the right-hand column.

Work continues to remove contaminated soil from the spill site where a tractor-trailer carrying 8,200 gallons of gas overturned on November 5. Verdantas, the firm monitoring pollution levels, and ESI, the firm doing remediation work, continue to work on Route 44 and Maple Avenue, where families have been displaced.

On Route 44, work will start next week to remove and replace pipes and contaminated soil in the vicinity of 97 and 105 Greenwoods Road East, the epicenter of the spill. Excavation between 97 and 105 will probably continue for a week and a half, but Route 44 will not be closed. Workmen are aiming to get the family back into Number 97 by December 16th; that family is in a rental near the Winsted border. Residents of Numbers 89 and 93 have been put up at Mountain View Inn. Monitoring, testing and, possibly, remediation will continue for months.

Draft tables summarizing soil, groundwater and other data; supplied by environmental consultant, Verdantas. [Note: These preliminary tables were removed by request, 12/6/22.]

At 5:58 a.m. on Saturday morning, November 5, the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department and Norfolk Lions Club Ambulance were dispatched to a reported gasoline tanker rollover in front of 97 Greenwoods Road East, also known as Route 44. Upon arrival of the first volunteers, the driver had self-extricated from the overturned cab and it was found that the tanker had been breached and was leaking gasoline onto the roadway. Further questioning of the driver revealed that he was carrying a full load of 8200 gallons of gasoline.

Due to the immediate threat of fire and explosion, removal of the residents of nearby houses was carried out promptly.  Eversource was notified to cut power to the grid and Aquarian was notified to ensure that we had enough water to fight any potential fire. Numerous local, regional, state, and federal resources were onsite to assist with the containment and continue to be through Sunday and into early this week.

The investigation by CT DEEP showed that the majority of gasoline made its way into the storm drain system along Route 44 or onto the front lawns of neighboring houses. Following the route of travel, the gasoline made its way under Pettibone Lane and into the brook at Maple Avenue and down to the culvert at the 5-way intersection of Emerson Street, Mills Way, Shepard Road, and John Curtiss Road. A sand berm was put into place blocking the movement of gasoline further under Shepard Road and preventing the gasoline from entering the Blackberry River. CT DEEP has continued to monitor the river and there is no evidence that any product has moved that far.

Environmental cleanup will continue for at least the next several days both at the crash site as well as at the stream with contaminated water and soil being taken off site. By 8 p.m. on Saturday, residents were allowed to return to their homes after being metered by the NVFD and cleared of any dangerous levels of gasoline.

Extract, press release from Emergency Services Committee, November 7, 2022


Links to a three-part recording of the August 15, 2023, town meeting.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Links to a three-part recording of Norfolk’s May 23, 2023, town meeting.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Links to a four-part recording of Norfolk’s March 7, 2023, town meeting.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Work Plan for Application of Bioremediation Amendment to Soil, Sediment, and Groundwater at Locations Impacted by the Route 44 Gasoline Spill in Norfolk, CT

State of Connecticut standards for ground water and soil remediation.

State Department of Health memo regarding toxicology standards for gasoline and effects of early exposures during the Norfolk gasoline spill.

Links to a six-part recording of Norfolk’s January 31, 2023, town meeting.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

A recording of the December 20 Norfolk town meeting.

Update, including maps, by Verdantas, as presented at the December 20 town meeting.

Presentation showing the spill path and locations for the testing points.

Links to a four-part recording of Norfolk’s November 15 town meeting.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

A History in 7 Press Releases