Update: Army Corps of Engineers still undecided about DCAM permit to
remediate former Medfield State Hospital toxic waste
By Brett M. Rhyne
Wicked Local Medfield
Posted Sep 26, 2011 @ 05:51 PM
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet acted upon the permit application filed with it by the state’s Division of
Capital Asset Management regarding the planned remediation of oil and toxic waste at the former Medfield State Hospital site.
Karen Kirk Adams, chief of the permits and enforcement branch of the New England District of the corps, told the Press that not only
has the permit been neither approved nor denied yet, she could not even estimate when action might be taken on it.
The delay, she said, is due to “clarification on the project” that the corps is seeking from DCAM and the Massachusetts
Department of Environmental Protection, which is mandating DCAM’s actions.
The need for clarifications arose, she said, when the corps met with Medfield’s Board of Selectmen and a number of other Medfield
residents concerned about the remediation on Sept. 19.
A DCAM representative “had been informed of, if not invited to, the meeting,” said board Chairman Osler Peterson. He said the town
had “left it up to the Army Corps of Engineers to invite whomever they wanted from DEP.”
At the meeting, Medfield town officials made their case to the corps that it ought to deny DCAM’s permit application. The agency is
seeking to permission to remediate oil found in the Charles River near the site, and to remediate toxic waste in the soil on the
The state’s plan for the oil is to cover the riverbed with a clay cap this fall, thus preventing any more oil from entering the river water,
and to vacuum-dredge the riverbed clean of all soil with oil in it in the fall of 2012.
The town would like DCAM to complete the remediation this fall, in one step rather than two.
The state’s plan for the toxic soil on the riverbank is to remove about a quarter of it, slope the bank, cover what’s left with a nonporous
sheeting, and pin that sheeting down with rip-rap, a gravellike material commonly seen under bridges.
The town would like DCAM to remove all the toxic soil — Medfield has even offered land elsewhere on the site for a modern, hygienic
toxic waste dump — and which would then allow the riverbank to be used by the public or returned to its natural state.
As a result of meeting with Medfield town officials last week, the corps is now seeking clarification of the state’s plan to remediate
both areas, Adams said.
Regarding the riverbed, the corps would like to know if DCAM intends to remove the clay cap at some point in the future, she said.
If the state intends to vacuum-dredge the riverbed next year, then the cap will certainly be removed, Adams said. But DCAM’s permit
application does not mention any work beyond capping the oil, she said.
“People can’t apply for permits piecemeal,” she said. The corps’ concern is that if the scope of all the intended work taken together
crosses a certain threshold, a more rigorous review process becomes necessary, Adams said.
Regarding the riverbank, the corps would like to know more about proposed bio-engineered solutions to keeping the toxic waste in
place, she said. At last week’s meeting, Adams made it clear that a bio-engineered solution was preferable to rip-rap because it would
have less impact on the environment.
The corps is currently talking with DCAM and MassDEP to clarify both points.
Also at the meeting was Rep. Stephen Lynch, who voiced strong support for the town’s concerns. In a Sept. 23 letter to DCAM
Commissioner Carol Cornelison, he wrote the state’s “current remediation plan is being implemented in an [sic] short-sighted,
fractional manner that will not result in a permanent solution that protects the nearby well water and the long term health of the
residents of Medfield and the surrounding communities.”
In the letter, he urged the state to withdraw its current permit application “in order to thoroughly consider all permanent
Rep. Lynch writes to Massachusetts in support of Medfield’s position
Contact Medfield Press editor Brett M. Rhyne at 781-433-8353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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