Soiled past creates caution in accepting fill for hazardous waste cleanup site


PITTSFIELD -- A plan to use fill from Lee to cap a hazardous waste cleanup site off Merriam Street has raised some concerns among members of the Pittsfield Board of Health.

"We need to be careful in this, given our history in Pittsfield of accepting soil that was found to be contaminated," said board Chairwoman Roberta "Bobbi" Orsi.

Orsi referred to soil contaminated with PCBs and other materials generated over many years at local General Electric Co. factories that was used as fill at a number of properties in the city. Those residential and commercial parcels, along with former GE factory sites, have been the focus of a massive, 13-year cleanup project overseen by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental officials.

The health board had, in fact, just received an update on the GE sites and Housatonic River cleanup work in Pittsfield from the EPA's project team leader Dean Tagliaferro. The work includes removal of contaminants and continual testing at sites around the former GE complex off East Street, and city health officials are routinely notified of the test results.

The board was notified this week of the planned transfer of 2,000 cubic yards of soil by the state Department of Environmental Protection and asked if members had comments. However, a response was requested by Monday, and board members said they want more information on the work and would like to meet with a DEP official so they could ask questions.

According to a seven-page notification from the DEP, the agency has approved of plans to use fill removed as part of remediation of a state Department of Transportation dumping site in Lee. The fill, including soil, street sweepings and small amounts of asphalt, brick and concrete, was inspected and tested and found to be suitable for "residential" uses, the DEP said.

The plan calls for using fill to cover a geotextile fabric cap to be placed atop a waste cleanup site at the Perlman Recycling, LLC, property at 54 South Merriam St. in Pittsfield. The cleanup project involves waste oils and dates to the late 1990s and is in the final phases of the work, the DEP said.

Vigilio Construction & Paving Co. excavated the Lee MassDOT site in August and early September, and the stockpiled fill material was then tested and found safe for the proposed use, the DEP said.

"All analytical results of the fill soil samples met all ... soil standards," according to the DEP letter. It is "not considered a solid waste," the agency said.

In addition, the agency said that if more than 2,000 cubic yards of the fill were needed at the Perlman site, additional fill would undergo the same testing procedure.

The current tenant and operator of the metal salvage yard near the site is Seven Iron, LLC, and the site is owned by Perlman Recycling, LLC, the DEP stated.

"I just think we need someone here to ask questions," health board member Jay Green said during a discussion of how the board should respond to the DEP.

Members resolved to ask for a meeting with a DEP officials and also to submit their comments to the agency. A special board meeting might be considered, Orsi said, as the next scheduled meeting is in October.

To reach Jim Therrien:,
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