Friends of Fitch meet at the White Hart Inn in Salisbury for lunch and conversation.

Clark Nicholls, Terry Dunne, John Fitch, Allen Olmstead and John Godfrey.

We later adjourned to John’s home where we worked on John’s computer and sent out the first informational email which is included below.


The Friends of Fitch Homestead Fund

John Cooper Fitch - Lime Rock Connecticut


Please check this site often for updates as they occur.

This site was created as a way to easily disseminate information on this topic from a single location.

I don’t pretend to be an authority on this situation, there are a lot of people involved.

Please contact Carl Goodwin at attlastt@frontier.net or 419-668-2563 with your questions.

(The book Racing Through Life by Carl Goodwin documents Fitch's life)

Thank you all for your support of John!




A letter to the Governor of Connecticut from a friend of John Cooper Fitch:


Dear Governor Rell:
A friend of mine and a true patriot, 90 year old John Fitch of Lime Rock, CT, needs assistance.  Among events in his life, John was a fighter pilot in WW II and a POW in
Germany.  He also invented the Fitch Inertial Barrier (the yellow barrels seen prior to bridge abutments and highway exit ramps).  His whole life has been dedicated to research in automotive safety.  I have included two websites below that explain his situation and hope you can help this fine gentleman. 

Thank you,

R. Allen Olmstead


Response to Al’s letter to Governor Rell here from Patrick Bowe, Director of Environmental Protection, Remediation Division.


Response to Al’s letter to US Senator Joseph Lieberman here




Please go to this link to see article in Lakeville Journal.

John’s biography and other information is here

Wikipedia biography here

Other links of interest at end of this page.



Press Release #01 March 26, 2008:





FROM:  Friends of Fitch                                        CONTACT: Carl Goodwin

179 W. Main St.                                                  (419) 668 –2563

Norwalk, OH  44857                                             attlastt@frontier.net



The State Of Connecticut Is Punishing A 90 Year Old

WWll Veteran For Doing The Right Thing.


 “I suppose if I’d kept my mouth shut, none of this would have happened,” says John Fitch, referring to the oil contamination nightmare that has plagued him since advising the state of Connecticut’s DEP five months ago that he suspected an old storage tank under his Litchfield County lawn might be leaking. But keeping mum when he suspects something is wrong simply isn’t this man’s style: John Fitch has devoted his life to “the greater good” for over half a century.


Forget that he is a decorated combat pilot who shot down one of Hitler’s dreaded Messerschmidt ME 262 jets. Forget that he was taken POW and received a Purple Heart. Forget that he was the inventor of the Fitch Inertial Barrier, those ubiquitous yellow sand-filled plastic barrels whose strategic placement on highways across America have saved countless thousands of lives.  Forget that Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell herself declared April 21, 2006 “John Fitch Day” in honor of his contributions to highway safety. And forget that as a legendary racing car driver he is the very embodiment of a true hero, as his election to numerous Halls of Fame will testify.  Forget all that, and just consider the facts of this case:


Last October, Fitch told the DEP that he suspected an oil leak. He also (at his own expense) hired a local environmental services company to test his well water. The results indicated a petroleum concentration of 1.5 milligrams per liter, but no-one told him if that constituted a problem. Instead, the DEP ordered him to test all the wells within 500 feet of the tanks, again at his own expense. In November, the DEP advised him that although none of the wells was contaminated, he would have to remove the tanks and excavate the surrounding soil … again at his own expense. After excavating more than 3,000 tons of dirt (some of which was, in fact, contaminated), work had to be suspended because the resultant pit had filled with rainwater. Meanwhile, the contaminated soil, which was deposited in 15-foot high piles around Fitch’s property, was subjected to the effects of run-off because of rain and snow, a hazard that the state - not Fitch - created. “And there’s no end in sight,” laments the 90 year old. “In theory they can make me drain the pit and continue excavating. What’s worse, they can force me to cart the soil off and pay for it to be treated.” 


To put that into perspective, Fitch has received estimates of $70 per ton to have this done, and that doesn’t include the cost of the excavation itself, nor the cost of filling in the pit with clean soil. One expert has estimated that the total bill could easily top $350,000. In the meanwhile, The Town of Salisbury mailed the Fitches a notice advising them of an $80,000 reduction in the assessed value of their home, with the words  “Oil Contamination” overwritten across the page. “I’m completely bewildered by this,” says Fitch. “In effect, they have condemned our family home, making it worthless.”


But perhaps the most ironic –and frustrating‑ fact about the situation is that the Connecticut DEP itself has no firm protocol for cases such as this. According to Fitch, Patrick F. Bowe, Director of the DEP’s Remedial Division, has advised the Fitches that it is up to them to work with a consultant to select the best alternatives, taking into consideration costs, permit requirements and potential risks to human health. “He is saying that either our consultant, whoever that may be, will know more about oil contamination remediation than the DEP does or, if the DEP knows more, it is not telling us!” says Fitch. And while all of this is going on, Fitch’s wife, Elizabeth, requires nursing home care at a cost of $10,000 a month.


Outraged by the State’s actions, John Fitch’s friends have banded together to provide some financial relief for the couple. Notably, the Vintage Sports Car Club of America has graciously offered to help with legal expenses, and this week a fund was established to help pay for the excavation and soil cleaning costs. Checks payable to “The Friends of Fitch Homestead Fund” may be sent to the Salisbury Bank and Trust Company, P.O. Box 1868, Lakeville, CT 06039.


More additional information and documentation please see the contact information at the top of this release.


State of Connecticut personnel involved with the Fitch case include

Director Patrick F. Bowe, Remediation Division,

Camille Fontanella, Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection, at 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127, tel.(860)424-3074.


Other interested parties are:

K. Foley, (413) 734-3688

M. O’Handley, (425) 806-4875

State Senator Andrew Roraback, (860) 489-6880

CT Governor Jodi Rell (860) 528-7347



#      #      #



Background information:


FROM: Friends of Fitch                         CONTACT: Carl Goodwin

179 W. Main St.                                                  (419)668-2563

Norwalk, OH 44857                                              attlastt@frontier.net



Background Information

(Not intended for release with the release of March 25th)


Please note it is not the Fitch family intention to be contentious or critical. That may appear to be the case but it represents the only possible conclusion after 50 years of exposure to contaminated soil, and the critical finding that the eight most vulnerable down-gradient neighbors wells have tested clean.


Beyond the initial consent to excavate the contaminated soil, the Fitches did not participate in the decisions that created the obligations now incumbent upon them. That includes the decision to cease excavating and refill the cavity left by 3000 tons now stockpiled on the Fitch property.


The town of Salisbury mailed a notice to John Fitch of an $80,000 reduction in the assessed value of the Fitch house, with “Oil Contamination” overwritten across the page. This is only the beginning. The Fitch house is now non-negotiable, i.e., worthless.


If the Fitches had been advised of optional methods of detoxification of soil by passive, bio-remedial or other in situ means, they would have insisted on a delay of such a decision to allow a thorough evaluation of alternative methods of remediation.


The Fitch well has been tested clean twice, and seven other neighbor’s wells most likely to be affected because of their location down-gradient from the release source in the path of excavated soil and the groundwater flow, have all been tested clean.


Before they were tested, Fitch had suggested that if the eight wells were clean, nothing further be undertaken until such time that a contaminated well is discovered. If and when it is, technologies available at that time can be reviewed, from bioremediation to auxiliary or remote wells, to resolve any problems that remain. That is where negotiations stand as of March 25, 2008.


We are now informed by the D.E.P. that the life of UST (underground storage tanks) tanks prior to the expectation of leaks is only 15 years – a well-kept secret.


Certainly a petroleum taste or odor in drinking water would be unpalatable, but how does that extrapolate from unpleasant taste to a hazard to public health, which implies a harmful, noxious substance that presents a threat to health, or to life itself. Tainted drinking water is obviously unacceptable, but remedies do exist, such as auxiliary wells or a potable water supply from a remote well.


“The Fitches are advised it is up to them to work with a consultant to select the best alternatives, taking into consideration costs, permit requirements and potential risks to human health.” That is a quote from Director Bowe, Remediation Division of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. He is saying that either our consultant, whoever he may be, knows more about oil contamination remediation than the DEP does or, if the DEP knows more, it is not telling us.


The Connecticut agencies involved have delivered numerous requests and orders, which are difficult for a layman to differentiate among, that require the services of technicians including engineers, chemists, attorneys and an office staff more appropriate to a major corporation than to an average home owner who happens to have a UST (Underground Storage Tank) that may or may not become a Significant Environmental Hazard, as the Fitch home is now classified.


The CT DEP, its Remedial Division and an assembly of licensed engineers, consultants and approved laboratories, effectively overwhelms the typical homeowner, being without an office staff and the technical knowledge to cope with the legal authority of trained professionals.


Indications are that these matters will be resolved only at great expense and under the threat of penalties, liens and court action for noncompliance.


Cost breakdown of possible second excavation after pumping out the groundwater as described in the Release Draft of March 25, 2008.


It is clear that the authority of the DEP is unlimited. Hence, the DEP could order a second excavation of the original site.


Berkshire Environmental, LLC, has suggested proceeding to pump out the groundwater in order to excavate the contaminated soil which was not accessible due to the incursion of groundwater.


If that is undertaken, the consequences will be (with costs based on previous tasks):


Removal of the fill now replacing the

originally excavated 3000 tons of contaminated soil.                $60,000

Pump out groundwater (estimated)                                          $5,000

Excavate remaining contaminated soil (est. up to 3000 tons)    $60,000


Disposal of 3000 tons of contaminated soil at bid of $70/ton   $210,000

Refill second excavation of 3,000-ton cavity                              15,000

                                                                              Total  $350,000



This would be the second major excavation of contaminated soil, a continuation at the original site.


*      *      *



Interesting links:

Note, please go to this link to see article in Lakeville Journal. Link added March 21, 2008


New York Times article #1 here

New York Times article #2 here

New York Times article #3 here

New York Times article #4 here


Interesting Google search


Newsday article here


John’s biography and other information is here

Wikipedia biography here

Forum discussion: http://www.teamjuicyracing.com/forums/showthread.php?p=26514#post26514






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