Testing of Bogs Debated for Several Hours

            After several hours of debate and the sharing of technical data regarding stormwater flooding that recently occurred at the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Bogs site and the concern that possible hazardous chemicals were transported to freshwater wells, Tuesday night’s public hearing with the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission resulted in a continuation.

            Early in the Enforcement hearing, members of Luciano Contracting described measures put in place that would assist in controlling future stormwater-runoff events in an effort to keep soils and water on the site. The commission was satisfied with those plans, expressing appreciation for their efforts to keep the site conditions under control.

            As the hearing went on, abutters along with members of the commission asked probing questions about the possible movement of dangerous chemicals leaving the site. Gerald Randall, who first rang alarm bells when he witnessed the flooding near his Acushnet Road property, said he could see sediment in the Mattapoisett River.

            Conservation Commission Chairman Mike King said he has reached out to a number of agencies requesting information on agricultural chemical issues and more specifically whether or not testing was merited. He said he wasn’t sure how to move forward, given that the advice he received seemed to discourage testing as inconclusive at best. The other commissioners in attendance, David Lawrence, John Jacobson and David Nicolosi, were in favor of testing.

            Mike Huguenin spoke from prepared notes on behalf of the Buzzards Bay Coalition. His comments were, “…MassDEP does not require chemical testing based in part on past chemical assessments at other Massachusetts abandoned cranberry bogs.” This was in response to a question asked at the previous meeting when Sarah Quintal of the BBC was asked why testing had not been done. Her response at that time was that soils were not intended to leave the site.

            Huguenin’s narrative spoke to construction workers being able to work on such sites due to only trace amounts of contaminants being found. He also said that contaminants are tightly bound to soil particles and are not volatile or soluble.

            Concerns over transported soils polluting freshwater wells seemed unsupported, as Huguenin said Water Department testing was not showing any evidence that this was the case.

            There had also been questions about the depth of study and agency review that preceded the Bog project. Huguenin pointed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Ecological Restoration, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program. A local peer-review consultant had not been required or engaged to oversee the town’s interests, however.

            Conservation Agent Brandon Faneuf expressed his concern over the amount of sediment that may have migrated from the site during the first flooding event. There had apparently been two flooding episodes. He said that in his next weekly site review to check on Enforcement Orders he intends to check for sediment along Acushnet Road opposite the site entrance.

            As the clock ticked on to 10:00 pm, the commissioners continued the hearing. In the interim, the question of whether or not to test the Bog site will be considered with possible collaboration with the Select Board.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20.

            On February 5, the Mattapoisett Planning Board met informally with engineer Andy Stackpole of Field Engineering to discuss two potential subdivisions. Chairman Tom Tucker referred to both as “pork chop developments” that bylaws currently prohibit. Stackpole spoke to why they didn’t fall into that category. Stackpole will take a few small recommendations back to the drawing board before returning with more fully fleshed-out plans.

            The board also approved the acceptance of the Mattapoisett Master Plan. The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, March 4, at 7:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Conservation Commission

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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