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Sound Bites: 15 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of toxic soil

Children can encounter lead in contaminated soil, paint, water and dust.
Vladimir Popovic
Getty Images
Children can encounter lead in contaminated soil, paint, water and dust.

We’re happy to see you, Friday. Today: temperatures across Connecticut soar into the 50s, bringing increased chances of brush fires throughout the area. It’s P.S. I Love You Day across Long Island, a day dedicated to mental health awareness. Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we’re hearing:

Bridgeport staffer Maria Pires is filing in federal court after she says she was fired, rehired, and refired for supporting an opposing mayoral campaign. Backed by local labor attorney Thomas Bucci, the city special project coordinator claims she was fired without due process from her municipal position after attending a campaign launch for one of Mayor Joe Ganim's opponents, John Gomes.

New Haven has seen triple the number of deaths by overdose than usual since Jan. 25. In response, city officials will expand their harm reduction efforts. City Health Director Maritza Bond said members of the health department met with harm reduction resource distributors to outline which communities in New Haven need the most attention. They also discussed methods to distribute supplies, such as medication taken to combat drug overdose and fentanyl test strips.

More than 52,000 cubic yards – approximately 15 Olympic swimming pools worth – of toxic soil has been removed from around Stratford. Environmental engineer Jim DiLorenzo cites the defunct automotive parts manufacturer Raymark Industries for the asbestos and lead-ridden soil. The decontamination effort, which has been a years-long project, is set to wrap in 2024, with many more steps along the way.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim was accused of breaking city zoning regulations by offering his Black Rock home for short-term rent on sites, like Airbnb and Vrbo, for the second time. The Tudor-style home has been on the market for $1.3 million since November 2022. In the meantime, Ganim has been unlawfully renting the space, though his communications team said he has agreed to remove the advertisements.

Online civil service applications are returning to Suffolk County. After undertaking mitigation efforts last summer’s cyber intrusion that prompted the removal of digital applications, the online service has made a reprisal to “ensure we reach a wide range of people which includes local individuals and those out of state,” according to County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison.

More than $5 million in federal funds is going to Stamford to support community-based projects. These include upgrading the city’s sodium-based streetlights to energy-saving LED streetlights, designing a new satellite branch of the Ferguson Library system on the East Side, and purchasing training equipment for a regional police academy.

Survivors of sexual assault from the Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese are filing a $42 million lawsuit against the bankruptcy firm that published their names under an agreement of confidentiality. This is not the first time that Epiq Corporate Restructuring, the firm handling the bankruptcy case of the diocese, has released confidential information – there are at least two other known cases of information breaches, in California and Canada, respectively. The diocese itself faces more than 60 lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as boys, with an additional 82 additional claims of sexual abuse.

Proposed reapportionment of Nassau County’s legislative districts.
Nassau County Legislature
Proposed reapportionment of Nassau County’s legislative districts.

The Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corporation has taken itself out of the running to open a full downstate casino before the bids for the licenses have begun. New York will award three licenses for traditional casinos downstate later this year. Had they acquired one of the licenses, which would have cost $500 million, a Las Vegas-style “live casino” would have been added onto Jake’s 58 in Islandia. The corporation’s managing director, Phil Boyle, said the reason for the decision came down to price.

The Nassau County Legislature filed a proposed plan on Thursday for the reapportionment of its 19 legislative districts. Filed by Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, a public hearing to present the proposal will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Public comment will be taken.

Eda Uzunlar is WSHU's Poynter Fellow for Media and Journalism.