Monthly Archives: August 2011

DEP Email to PIP Member re Timing of MSH Clean Up

Bill Massaro queried DEP and got the response below –

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8/23/2011 11:42AM
RE: 1.) Friday’s Meeting;   2.) PIP Review Concerns
“Baldi, Mark (DEP)”
“wmassaro” mike sullivan  osler peterson  John Thompson  Andrea Stiller  “mvandeusen/crwa.org”  “Gardner, Mary (DEP)”  “ODonnell, John (DCP)” “Duran, Sandra (DCP)”
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Bill,

Thank you for attending the meeting on Friday, August 19, to discuss the concerns of the Public Involvement Plan (PIP) petitioners regarding the IRA Plan and associated, focused Phase III feasibility evaluation for the C& Area at the former Medfield State Hospital.

Regarding the issue of steam pipe conduits and storm drains.  Utilities and drainage systems that could provide preferential migration pathways for groundwater contamination will need to be identified for the final Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment Report.  Potential preferential migration pathways will need to be evaluated and assessed per 310 CMR 40.0835(4)(e)2, 40.0904(2)(c), and the SPD Permit approval; or eliminated as preferential migration pathways with substantiated Technical Justification, as per 310 CMR 40.0193, 40.0835(4), e.g. groundwater gauging, tracer tests, geophysical investigation, sampling, etc.

Regarding the PIP review period, the Phase III is a required integral part of the IRA Plan.  The MCP notes that time critical elements of an IRA may be conducted prior to close of the 20-day public comment period, pursuant to 310 CMR 40.01403(9)(h).  MassDEP considers the IRA as time critical to complete the construction work during the low water season in the river before mid-October and thereby contain and control further erosion of the bank and capping of petroleum-contaminated sediment in the river until dredging can be accomplished next year.  The substantive scope of work for the IRA was provided in the IRA Plan submitted on July 10, 2011, and the public comment period has been met for that submittal with the meeting of last Friday providing additional opportunity for comment.  Nonetheless, as the Phase III component was not posted to the public until August 16, MassDEP will extend the IRAP comment period, to include the Phase III evaluation, to ensure remedial actions are not conducted during the 20-day public comment period, and allow MassDEP to consider comments and issue a Conditional Approval of the IRA.   In particular, MassDEP would encourage PIP petitioners and stakeholders to provide specific alternatives to riprap, based upon site specific and engineering considerations.

MassDEP appreciates yours and other stakeholders attention to these matters to achieve a safe, environmentally beneficial, and cost-effective solution, meeting the Massachusetts Contingency Plan’s requirements of 310 CMR 40.0850.

Thank you,

Mark Baldi
Section Chief, Audits
Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup
MassDEP, Central Region
(508) 767-2803
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From: wm massaro
Sent: Monday, August 22, 2011 2:11 PM
To: Baldi, Mark (DEP)
Cc: mike sullivan; osler peterson; John Thompson; Andrea Stiller
Subject: 1.) Friday’s Meeting; 2.) PIP Review Concerns

Mark,

1.)  Friday’s Meeting.  I want to  thank you for calling Friday’s meeting.

Like you, I was surprised by the number of attendees.  I had tried to get  some kind of scoping sessions started at the beginning of summer, and Commissioner Cornelison had seemed receptive, but if I understood reports by attendees from Medfield at  the first “technical” meeting, it seemed to be more heavily attended by the State’s administrative/financial staff than by environmental/engineering  types.

I was very disappointed that I had to bring up, in the face of DCAM’s apparent unwillingness to broach the subject,  the CVOC plume issue and then have to inquire if its remediation could be impacted by the planned IRA solution .   I appreciate your direction to DCAM  that additional sampling was required to determine if the plume had migrated under the river.   (Please note: Medfield had requested sampling closer to the river and sampling for migration under the river, in our 31 January 2011 CVOC Supplemental SOW Overburden Wells comment/concern submissions. My records indicate that responses from DCAM were not received until 6 July 2011, and migration under the river was not investigated as we learned Friday.)

Also, in my  May 2011 comments to the Interim Phase II report, I had asked about the impact of Storm or other water in the C&D Area based on the discovery of an hydrologic connection—- steam conduit between the upper campus to the PP area, and then to an inlet pipe to catch basins.  A drain manhole was found in the PP area but water flow testing indicated it was blocked and no discharge point was found.  In their 6 july 2011 response (e- copy not available, hardcopy mailed 18 july 2011) , DCAM replied only that steam pipe conduits were the “responsibility of the developer”.

Given the opportunity at Friday’s meeting to go over this response, I would’ve asked how or if the proposed activity in the C&D Area might unblock this or affect other unknown discharges in the area.

2.)  PIP Review Concerns :    As I have said  several times before, an incremental release of technical data throughout the entire SPD effort, but particularly release of the results from 2011 Phase II CSA sampling, if available for discussion  before the flurry of parallel NOI/IRA/NPC/USACOE approval/certification releases might have eased some of the frustration for the Town and facilitated the process for DCAM.

The Phase III Feasibility Evaluation for the C&D Area was released to the DEP Web-site on 8/16.  I am assuming that this document is subject to the PIP process. Public review and comment of this document was significantly impeded by unreleased Phase II CSA data because initial assessment could proceed only as far as identifying what was still needed to enable us to perform a complete review prior to a comment and concern submittal.  This missing/unreleased data list was submitted to DEP/DCAM on 17 August 2011 and  most of the requested information begann arriving mid-day on 18 August.

I believe that sufficient time should be allowed for PIP review of the  FE in light of the “new” and highly relevant data.   It is my understanding that 20 days is the MCP defined period for reviews.  If this is correct  I request your confirmation that the PIP group will be allowed this period, from the release of data on 18 August  to adequately assess and then comment on the FE,  before DEP approval of the remediation work is granted.

Thank you again for your continuing attention and assistance,

Bill

DEP, DCAM, & Town Meeting re MSH

Bill Massaro reports below on the out of the ordinary stakeholders meeting that DEP convened last Friday, 8/19/11, at its Worcester office (NB -where it was scheduled in the afternoon when I had to already be on the road to a wedding outside of Bangor, instead of the morning, I was unable to attend).  Bill follows Medfield State Hospital developments closer than anyone in town, and has been generous in sharing what he learns.  What follows is his report –
The “stakeholder” meeting called by DEP at their Worcester office Friday  afternoon lasted about three hours.  There were 19 attendees :   DEP–Mary Gardner, Mark Baldi, and Gary Dulmaine;  DCAM– Sandra Duran, John O’Donnell, and Craig Dunlop;  Weston & Sampson–Frank Ricciardi, Anthony Zerilli and Blake Martin; Charles River Watershed Association–Margaret Van Deusen, Kate Bowditch and Elise Leduc; Medfield –Mike Sullivan and Ann Thompson;  SHERC- John Thompson, Deb Bero and Andrea Stiller; PIP Group–John Harney and Bill Massaro.
The agenda was to resolve  the issues with DCAM’s proposed NOI/IRA to cover a small area of oil contamination in the river, and the riprapping( basically big chunks of stone armoring) to be put along 200 feet of the bank to keep the asbestos, and other contaminants in the river bank from eroding into the river. A swath about 50 feet wide and 200 ft long behind the riprap at the water’s edge would be removed/regraded and  replaced with clean fill.  A membrane cap covered with 3 ft of more clean soil would be placed over this new riverfront bank  and some (not all) of the remaining 3 acres of  C&D Area contaminated soil.   The in-river Aquablok cap was supposedly chosen because rapid approval from US Army Corps of Engineers was required to meet the DEP IRA deadline, and a dredging permit would have taken too long to secure.
We believe  that there is no  need to do this immediately, and that the contamination is decades old and is not actively eroding into the river.  Any remediation in the C&D Area should wait until DCAM’s pending release of the Final Phase II Comprehensive Site Analysis for the entire site including the C&D Area,  the Power Plant, and the CVOC migration issue completion.   DEP disagreed and insisted that DCAM must act now under the IRA.
In response to my questions about bid price, budget, and funding availability, DCAM advised that  there was no budget expiration date or other motive driving the schedule, just the requirement imposed by DEP..
The major concern for us is fear that what DCAM is proposing as a lower-cost, temporary measure, needing to be done now during low-water, would actually turn out to be permanent.    The property is slated for turnover to the Department of Conservation/Recreation, and it is entirely possible that neither they nor DCAM will have future funding to allow the appropriate cleanup, if we do not push for it now. This could leave the town and future development residents and other recreational users a state-sponsored, permanent  toxic landfill.
SHERC wants no riprap and wants more contaminated soil removed to protect the aquifer( Town Well #6 ) and future recreational users. SHERC is concerned about contaminated fill below groundwater being left in the C&D Area under the current plan, and the as yet incompletely defined extent of the chlorinated solvent plume extending down from the former laundry area, through the Power Plant area, and right up to the edge of the C&D Area at the riverbank.  DCAM would not discuss any alternatives involving removing contaminated material under the Algonquin Gas line which runs through the C&D Area, because Algonquin/Spectra “refused to allow it”, although no evidence of DCAM conversations with Algonquin was provided. DCAM would not consider removing more material up to the gas line easement(not under it) because it is too expensive and they do not have enough time to re-bid the increased scope of the job before the end of low-water conditions.
Despite requests to determine if the solvent plume has migrated under the river, DCAM has not performed any sampling there. ( Note: A new sample along the bank further downstream from the prior monitoring well closest to the river was taken at our request.  Data was provided on Thursday showing about 6 times ( 35 ug/liter) the level of CVOC’s from the earlier well’s 6.4 ug/l.   DCAM’s position was  that since the Groundwater 3 standard ( flow into the river) is 5000ug/l, this is not a concern. My position (and SHERC’s) was that the Groundwater 1 standard, which DCAM had previously committed to, is 5ug/l, and the plume is in the Zone 2 aquifer. I wanted assurances that whatever was done now would not impede any future clean up, i.e. everything now should be “temporary” until all the contamination issues, like the chlorinated solvent plume, and alternative remediations are fully identified. I also preferred that no riprap be used  because once it went down would be there forever; and if remediating the solvent plume in the Power Plant and C&D Area required access to what’s under the riprap, they wouldn’t be able to get to it. DEP said they would direct DCAM to sample for under-river migration of the plume.
CRWA doesn’t want riprap for mostly aesthetic reasons, and in-river they wish minimum disturbance from removal activity. They are concerned that subsequent removal of the in-river Aquablok cap for replacement by a permanent solution will be more disruptive than waiting to effect a permanent solution via cap or dredge.  Waiting until release of the Final CSA Report for any in-river remediation would provide ample time for securing any needed USACOE dredging approval.    In an attempt to compromise and allow DCAM to meet their low-water deadline, CRWA suggested that rather than riprapping 200 ft of bank, armor only the area of riverbank adjacent to where erosion has supposedly caused contamination of sediment.   DCAM stated that the bidding process did not allow sufficient time for seeking bids on the de-scoped job before the end of low-water.
Despite several statements that cost was not a major determinant of the remedial solution chosen,  DCAM repeatedly cited costs of removal of greater volumes of contaminated material as being budget, as well as schedule, prohibitive.  When the degree of emphasis on weighting cost in DCAM’s evaluation of  alternatives was questioned,  DCAM’s  Sandra Durand passed out a sheet showing that DCAM had already spent $3 million dollars on cleanup at the Hospital. She stated that this was evidence that the need to comply with DEP’s IRA during the current low-water season, not cost, was the principal factor in their selection of the proposed NOI/IRA remediation.  (Note: $2.6 million of the $3 million supposedly spent was on property being turned over to the Developer.  I believe that cleanup of potential contamination of a river and a public water supply on land  going  for public conservation/recreation use should be at least as important as cleanup of land going to development.)
DCAM did not offer any comment on SHERC’s John Thompson’s question of whether  a trade-off study comparing DCAM’s cost of additional contaminated debris removal vs. Medfield’s cost of losing a town well had been done and included in any evaluation of alternatives..
 In response to my questions about winning subcontractor bid price, DCAM advised that the winning bid was $1.7 million, and confirmed that there was no budget expiration date driving the schedule.  DCAM again stated that DEP’s IRA response requirements were driving the urgent remediation.
Discussion was heated at several points…..  It was clear to me that DCAM was not going to be dissuaded by any of our concerns or arguments. Despite their statements at the meeting that they had no choice but to comply with the IRA and had to move quickly to remediate during this low-water season, I thought it was obvious that they are determined to use the IRA  to their advantage to quickly get as much work done in the C&D Area as cheaply as they can.  They were unwilling to seriously discuss any of the alternatives put forth by CRWA and by John Thompson.
Although it is remotely possible that  some kind of DEP-enforced compromise might come out of the meeting and that DEP may put some conditions on the riverbank effort, it seems clear to me that this would only go a small way to what SHERC and CRWA wanted.  DEP could not be talked into delaying the riprap, and DCAM stated that their procurement process would not allow enough time to go out for revised bids(either for increased scope–remove more, or for decreased scope–less riprap) as long as DEP insists that the work must be done this low-water season ends on Oct 15.
The best outcome that could be expected under this low-water constraint is  that everything except the riprap and the capped band of soil behind it may be deemed “temporary” by DEP who may then require DCAM to address removing more of the remaining contaminated soil after the low-water work is done.  DEP could also request the additional sampling to better define the extent of the solvent plume under the river.
I do not believe that this is acceptable.
As noted above, DCAM has funding for the job that is not budget year constrained.  They have stated that, if not for the requirement imposed by DEP,  they could re-bid alternative work scopes, and next year could perform a mutually agreed remediation of the C&D area, the Power plant area, the CVOC plume next year, with the in-river work being done at next year’s low water.  DEP states that they cannot allow DCAM to delay the work because of the MCP.
I would propose the following to relieve both DEP and DCAM of the deadline burden imposed by the IRA:
It is my understanding that issuance of an Order of Conditions (OOC) by Medfield’s ConComm is pending.   This OOC is required before DCAM can begin work.  Within 10 days of issuance of the OOC, aggrieved parties may file an appeal to DEP requesting a Superseding OOC.  Within 30 days it is my understanding that DEP must review this protest and provide a Prompt Ruling or schedule a Prescreening Conference. This hearing must be held within 120 days of filing the appeal.  I would urge the town to promptly consider filing such an an appeal.  In addition I would urge meeting with Town Counsel to develop additional approaches should the appeal be denied.
Bill Massaro

Weekly Political Report – week ending 8/19/11

Elizabeth Warren Forms Exploratory Panel

Harvard law professor and previous nominee to head the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission on Thursday to establish an exploratory committee as she considers a run in the 2012 U.S. Senate race to challenge Senator Scott Brown. Exploratory committees are used by potential candidates to raise money for travel, polling and other activities as they consider a potential campaign. Warren, who was named Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury by President Obama to help create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established under the Dodd-Frank Act, also launched a website – www.elizabethforma.com – as a portal for voters to make a donation to the committee.

According to Warren’s spokesman Kyle Sullivan (former communications director to Gov. Patrick), “Elizabeth has spent the last week listening to people from across the Commonwealth as she considers a campaign for the U.S. Senate. She wants to continue this conversation and the exploratory committee will assist her in doing so.” Warren has been participating in house parties across the state, visiting New Bedford, Brockton, Arlington, Dorchester, Lexington, Jamaica Plain, and Cambridge. She plans to travel to Framingham, Shrewsbury, Springfield, Pittsfield, the Cape and the North Shore in the coming days and weeks.

According to Warren’s advisors, Warren will announce her final decision about a potential campaign after Labor Day. There are currently six declared Democrats in the race seeking to challenge U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in 2012: City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Somerville activist Bob Massie, State Representative Tom Conroy of Wayland, Salem immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco, and Newton engineer Herb Robinson. Former State Sen. Warren Tolman announced this week that he would not enter the race.
Mid-August Tax Collections Stagnate

Revenue Commissioner Navjeet Bal reported this week that mid-August tax collections are down $31 million compared to the same period last year. Through Aug. 15, tax collections totaled $584 million. The state’s benchmark for the month projects collections of $1.44 billion, an increase of $53 million or 3.8 percent. In a letter to the Legislature, Commissioner Bal said that lower withholding and sales tax collections were partly offset by higher corporate and business tax payments over the first two weeks of August. Withholding taxes through mid-August were down $38 million from the same period in August 2010.
Boston Area Prices Increase

On Thursday the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the consumer price index, which measures changes in the prices of food, clothing, shelter and other goods and services, has risen 3.4 percent over the past year for the Boston area. This is slightly lower than the 3.6 percent rise nationally. The bureau’s regional office also reported that higher gas prices had driven a 23.6 percent increase in the area’s energy prices over the past year.

 

Unemployment Rate in Massachusetts Holds Steady
The unemployment rate in Massachusetts held steady at 7.6 percent in July, despite the addition of 12,700 seasonal jobs. The state’s jobless count, which is 1.5% below the national rate of 9.1%, has remained constant for the last three months. Massachusetts added 56,800 jobs since July 2010 for a growth rate of 1.8 percent. While job gains were reported in education, health services, trade, transportation, and utilities, job losses were recorded in the information, construction and leisure and hospitality sectors. The Patrick administration advised that methodological changes implemented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this year are causing “volatile changes” to monthly job estimates.

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
jnunnari@architects.org
617-951-1433 x263
617-951-0845 (fax)

MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
www.architects.org

 

 

List of streets scheduled for paving.

Email on Friday lists paving schedule as follows – schedule not known –

Adams Street
Dale Street
High Street and South Street
Spring Street
West Street

Street Trees

I would like to see the Town of Medfield engage in a planned program to plant more street trees.  I am motivated by the old photographs I have seen of the tunnels of the tree canopies formed by the towering elm trees along along Main Street and the full willow trees along Rte. 109 where it crosses the Charles River.

There are hybrid elm trees that are resistant to the Dutch Elm Blight, so we could return to elms.  The ornamental pear trees do well as street trees, and might work well in the downtown.  Where chestnut trees were once such a common New England hardwood, it might be nice to see if there is a chestnut tree now that can both survive and prosper. The willows could look spectacular along the river crossing.

Given our town budget issues, I would hope to see the trees donated, and perhaps adopted by residents who would take responsibility for watering and fertilizing them.  Perhaps we could map the town trees on the town’s GIS, with notations as to which family has adopted and agreed to be responsible for which trees, as a way to spur the individual attention that may be needed.  An individual tree is not that expensive, but by comparison the planting and care can cost money.  Plan and plant for the long run, by planting inexpensive small trees now, but leaving a gift of majestic large trees to our children and grandchildren.

The Medfield Garden Club is a paradigm of how to beautify public spaces in town with living plant material.  Perhaps similar such organizations and local arborists would share their organizational abilities and/or expertise to make such a project happen.

Former Selectmen Expertise

I just suggested to Mike Sullivan that it might behoove the town to invite all our former selectmen to meet so as to advise us on and brainstorm about solutions to town issues.  There is a lot of knowledge that one acquires from being a selectman, and if former selectmen were willing, it might well assist the town to have them meet once or twice a year to hash through the most intractable problems the town faces  so that the town could tap into their special expertise.

Droid as a Scanner

Just added two scanners to my Droid phone, CamScanner and ScanToPDF, both free.  Document Scanner was not.  My results were not good enough to OCR, but still a great tool to have with you when out of reach of the office scanner (a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500).