FairPLAN joins town in withdrawing action on Mill River lead cleanup
Published 4:53 pm, Tuesday, August 6, 2013
A citizens' group is joining the town in withdrawing its intervention over the application filed by Exide Group Inc. with state environmental officials to dredge 27,600 cubic yards of lead-contaminated sediment from the Mill River.
Three town commissions last week agreed to withdrawn the town's intervention on the cleanup permits, which Exide needs to move forward its plans to clean lead from the river left by its former battery-manufacturing plant on the Post Road.
On Tuesday, the group Fairfielders Protecting Land and Neighborhoods issued a statement saying that it also will withdraw its intervention filed with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the Exide cleanup application.
State officials told a joint meeting of the town's Conservation, Harbor Management and Shellfish commissions last week that if the town and FairPLAN interventions were not withdrawn, the hearing on them could take six months and would be based on Exide's original cleanup plan, which lacks changes negotiated during 10 meetings with town, DEEP and Exide officials in May and June.
"From the beginning of this process, FairPLAN's concern has been for the successful removal of lead in and around the Mill River," said lawyer Kathryn Braun in the group's statement. "While we do not feel that Exide's plan is as comprehensive as it could be, DEEP has assured us that if lead is discovered after the planned cleanup, Exide can still be held accountable for future lead remediation.
"We intend to rely on that assurance from DEEP as an important safeguard in the restoration of the Mill River area to the healthier condition it was in prior to decades of lead contamination," she added.
The intervention by FairPLAN and the town on Exide's DEEP application earlier this year, "resulted in an improved strategy for cleaning Mill River," FairPLAN Chairwoman Linda Snelham-Moore said in the statement. "While Exide could be doing more, the process of cleaning Mill River will at least begin soon with an upgraded effort."
Exide in 2006 demolished its manufacturing plant and removed lead-contaminated soil from its 6.25-acre Post Road property. But lead remains in the adjacent Mill River and Exide is under a longstanding order from DEEP to clean it up.
Despite withdrawing its intervention, FairPLAN remains "concerned" that the property adjacent to the company's property is polluted with Exide lead, and infrastructure such as drains and manhole structures may be seriously damaged by acid run-off from the former factory. That property is owned by the state Department of Transportation, and is used for buried drain pipes.
"FairPLAN has informed the DOT of the possible hazards on its property and anticipates working with the DOT and other government officials to develop a comprehensive response," said Braun.