'Whatever it takes' for New Haven's English Station security
NEW HAVEN — Officials with the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen insist they aren’t calling for armed guards patrolling the former English Station power plant site in order for the owners of the property to comply with a court order issued Thursday.
There was no obvious evidence Friday of the 24-hour security of the Grand Avenue property that was ordered by Hartford Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina.
The judge issued his order in response to requests filed by Jepsen and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty seeking to force the two out-of-state companies that own the former power plant site to do a better job of securing it from vandals and scrap metal thieves.
“It has to be whatever it takes to keep people off the site,” Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Massicotte, head of the agency’s environment department, said in response to questions from the New Haven Register. “In addition to a security guard, English Station owners are required to present the state with an adequate security plan. It’s up to them to do what is necessary.”
But there was no clear evidence of any increased security outside the plant Friday afternoon. A man sat sleeping in an unmarked pickup truck outside one of the locked gates leading into the property.
Dennis Schain, a DEEP spokesman, said Friday that officials with that agency “will work with the attorney eneral’s office to make sure that security for the site is increased as soon as possible.”
Uri Kaufman, a spokesman for English Station’s owners — Asnat Realty of New York and Evergreen Power of Wilmington, Md. — was not available for comment Friday about what steps the companies might have taken to better secure the plant or the costs associated with security improvements.
The grounds of the former power plant are heavily contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a known cancer-causing agent, as well as heavy metals and other contaminants. DEEP and Jepsen’s office argued in requesting the court order that break-ins at the plant — the most recent of which occurred Wednesday night and required emergency decontamination by DEEP personnel of a New Haven police van and other equipment — are putting the public’s health at risk because contaminants are being tracked off site by the thieves and vandals.
Evergreen owns the warehouse, while the former power plant is on the portion owned by Asnat, according to DEEP. The buildings are on a 9-acre island in the Mill River.
The current owners bought it from Quinnipiac Energy in December 2006. The United Illuminating Co. built the original structures and operated the plant from 1929 to 1992, when it stopped producing electricity there.
UI paid Quinnipiac Energy $4.15 million in 2000 to assume ownership of the site and buildings.
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706.