Vol. IV No. 26 11/15/2023
Notes from the Tri-Town Health, November 1, 2023, meeting with the Environmental protection Agency (EPA)
The meeting was lengthy and is available on Community Television South Berkshire (CTSB).
The central point was a dialogue between Chair Charles Kenny and the EPA representative. The Chair presented a petition with 1200 signatures. "The reason they are saying you did not discuss [transportation options: truck vs train] is because you did not."
The EPA representative said no decision has been made about using trucks or trains; both options were on the table. He then followed by saying trains were impossible because there were no sidings at which the material [PCBs] could be transferred. He said GE and EPA do not think there are any feasible locations along the train tracks. He suggested if they know of any they can suggest them He said, "You tell me."
This raised ire among Board members– was the EPA suggesting the locals - who are ill-equipped — do the work GE was supposed to do or EPA was expert in doing? Were they shifting responsibility?
The EPA representative said the five towns were going to get $55,000,000 soon and could spend that any way they wish.
Tri-Town members expressed the opinion that the tone and level of cooperation of EPA was lacking, and that EPA concern for the South Berkshire community, its health, quality of life, and economy was similarly lacking.
The Chair reported reading all materials provided by EPA back to 2014 pointed out that earlier drafts relying upon the same or similar data not only recommended train transport over trucks for a variety of public health and environmental health reasons. Kenny pointed out that seemingly without reason — the conclusion shifted from supporting trains to trucks. He asked if that was because GE estimated that creation or improvement of sidings could be $30,000,000, however, an independent report said the same work was estimated at $300,000.
Many were given the opportunity to express their concerns. Many cited the unavailability of a hard copy of the EPA report and lack of communication with the citizenry over the years.
Editor's note: The original Rest of River agreement specifically eliminated direct communication between EPA and the public by creating a representative group - one representative from each of the 5 towns to serve on the RoR Committee. Sadly, the Stockbridge representative to RoR, Steve Shatz, refused to report back to the Select Board or Town Meeting because "I cannot comment because there is ongoing litigation." Shatz did assure us there would be no impact on Stockbridge. Sadly, neither statement appeared to be true (See Editorial)
Photo: Lionel Delevingne