Town’s MSH clean up supported by State’s s own flood storage initiatives


The town’s newly hired attorney for the environmental issues at the Medfield State Hospital site sent the following email to Senator Timilty explaining why the state should follow the state’s own report on climate change, to remove all the waste so as to recreate the flood storage misplaced by that dumped waste.

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From: Margaret Stolfa
Date: Apr 27, 2012 9:09:59 AM
Subject: Medfield State Hospital
To: James.Timilty

Senator Timilty

As mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting of Medfield’s State Hospital Environmental Review Committee, below is a short description of the Commonwealth’s Climate Change Adaptation Report and how it supports Medfield’s position that DCAM should commit to a more thorough cleanup at the landfill/dump on the State Hospital property.  The Administration’s Climate Change Adaptation Report includes specific suggestions on how best to manage just such a situation as this one. DCAM should embrace the recommendations in this report.  The Commonwealth has the opportunity to restore needed flood plain, protect the water supply and prevent future flood damage by cleaning up this property. (See http://www.mass.gov/eea/air-water-climate-change/climate-change/climate-change-adaptation-report.html)

The Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, the Global Warming Solutions Act in August of 2008.  Section 9 of that Act directed the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and an advisory committee, to analyze strategies for adapting to predicted impacts of climate change.  The resulting Climate Change Adaptation Report was issued in September 2011.  This comprehensive Report provides both short term and long term suggestions on how to prepare for and how to adapt to, the effects of climate change.  The Report details the climate change impacts already observed and documented and includes specific examples of the impacts these changes have had on the Commonwealth’s economic, transportation and local infrastructure as well as on natural resources.  The strategies recommended include cost-effective and risk based approaches to address known risks and vulnerabilities.  Included in the identified risks and vulnerabilities are increased damage due to lost flood storage, the location of “old” landfills/dumps near rivers or in wetlands, and flood impacts to water supplies, transportation infrastructure and businesses.

The Report specifically identifies the need to restore flood plains in order to better manage floods that impact the Commonwealth’s economy.    The Report notes the risk posed by landfills/dumps that sit in flood plains in terms of lost flood-storage capacity as well as the risk they pose in releasing debris during floods.  The Report references successful storm management projects that manage flooding by maintaining (and restoring) the health of wetlands and flood plains and that are credited with saving millions in flood damages.   One of these projects includes portions of the Charles River.

Here, the State Hospital’s landfill/dump is located on 3.2 acres of flood plain along the Charles River.  It consists of approximately 12-15 feet of mixed wastes that include incinerator ash, construction and demolition debris, and hospital wastes.  It sits not only in the flood plain but also in groundwater within the zone II, the area of contribution for Medfield’s water supply. The landfill inhibits 12.5 million gallons of flood storage – meaning that 12.5 million gallons of flood waters that would normally occupy that space end up somewhere else.

The current DCAM proposal does not restore this flood plain and leaves the majority of the landfill/dump in place.   Instead, DCAM should implement the recommendations in the Administration’s own Report and remove the landfill/dump from the flood plain.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like additional information.

Thank you, Margaret R. Stolfa, Esq.

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