Monday, April 11, 2011

Solar Flare

Atkins construction soil
John Boothroyd and Dave Keenan, two outspoken critics of the town's attempt to recast the old unlined landfill into a sea of shiny solar panels took their battle directly to the Select Board at the unscripted 6:30 PM "Question Period" tonight, focusing on the potential health hazard of pesticide laced soil approved by the DEP as partial fill to repair sagging areas of the landfill cap due to settling common after 20 years of decomposition.

John Musante, during his "Town Manager's Report", told the Select Board the contaminated soil controversy had created "a lot of anxiety" and become a "distraction."

The regrading of the landfill will occur regardless of the solar array project and since the use of lead arsenate soil was a relatively minor part of the overall work, he directed DPW chief Guilford Mooring to abandon the idea of using 6,000 tons of tainted soil from the Atkins Corner Road project, although he praised Mr Mooring for "trying to be entrepreneurial".

Musante by no means backed down on the ambitious project to construct a 4.75 megawatt solar farm on the landfill that could provide the town with a million dollars per year in combined electricity savings and property tax revenues.



Anonymous said...

Good for Musante. The idea of lacing the landfill with toxic lead-arsenate soil was insanely stupid. Guilford Mooring - crybaby, dolt and lackey - should be tarred and feathered... then rolled in the soil himself!

LarryK4 said...

It is, after all, an unlined landfill.

And that toxic lead-arsenate soil has been all over South Amherst (exceedingly close to the surface) for the past 50 or 60 years.

Anonymous said...

Your description of Mr. Mooring couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a more forthright and responsible public official. He may have reached his boiling point the other night, but what pushed him there was the crowd of angry, irrational townspeople acting like inconsolable crybabies themselves. They were not interested in respectful discourse related to their concerns. They wanted little more than an opportunity to spew their unfettered worries and hostilities. I hope they got it out of their systems. Because if they really want to be part of the dialogue, then they need to be willing to listen just as much as they're willing to scream.

Anonymous said...

Amazingly (even though he hisses at me me every once in a while ;-), it's easy to agree with Larry here:

All the old orchard areas (and many of the fields where tobacco is or has been grown) in this happy valley are laced with low levels of arsenic compounds.
As long as you don't ingest (eat) or inhale (breathe) large amounts of the stuff, you'll be fine. And burying it a meter below grade will pretty much prevent eating and breathing the stuff (that's what was done with lead-arsenate contaminated topsoil near the Eric Carle Museum outdoor toddlers' play area, e.g.)

I'd be more concerned about the stability of the landfill cap:1) its ability to support the solar panels and 2) its ability to keep water from percolating through and risking contamination of the aquifer
below. There is a thick layer of clay in that area
(it was, after all, a brick yard once - was that the
source of the brick clay?) but careful monitoring
of ground water already lead to the closure of one
public drinking water supply well in that area.

Both issues (1 and 2) can and should be dealt with
by engineering and science - not by NIMBYism. In fact, hauling the soils to another site will only shift the problem further away, and result in a lot more
pollution from trucking, etc. (So maybe John and Guilford should reconsider?!)

- Y F

LarryK4 said...

And lets not forget those lightening storms that will turn the entire solar array into a raging inferno, just like in the movies.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:05:
You're right, it was a raucous meeting. But ragged because people are rightly concerned, and because the Town - rightly or not - appears furtive and dishonest.

Musante and Blue Wave did not do a good job of addressing the concerns raised at Fort River. Most concerns were posed thoughtfully, but were answered evasively. Yes, there were some emotional comments as well, all legitimate.

Musante mostly acquitted himself well after Mooring abandoned him.

DeVillers of BlueWave comes off as the revolving-door lobbyist insider who works the system to personal advantage. Perhaps if he had not begun the meeting by bragging about how he'd been inside the Governor's machine, chairing the committee that wrote the legislation that he then stepped into his BlueWave guise to capitalize upon - to the tune of an $8M tax credit in the case of this project - he'd have gotten more consideration.

The Town likely regrets having conducted preparations to this point in secret - it guarantees exactly the kind of reaction that was prompted Wednesday evening. But that's a calculated risk.

As far as calculations go, my bet is that DeVillers called Musante and said the soil was going to tank the whole project, and John scrambled to clean it up for BlueWave!

Tom Porter said...

Hi Larry,
I know it sounds funny, but two years ago I lost a 90-foot White Oak to a direct lightning strike, less than 20 feet from property line abutting the planned solar array.

Spectacular hit, blew out everything on the block and exploded the tree.

The landfill is high ground and while lightning is always a long shot, a strike at this spot is a proven possibility.

LarryK4 said...

Hey Tom,
I would imagine wood burns a lot easier than metal.

Dave said...

Hey Larry, I would imagine that solar panels conduct electricity a lot better than wood.

LarryK4 said...

And when properly grounded, conduct it to where it will not wreak havoc.

Tom Porter said...

Right Larry - it was an excellent experiment in conductivity.

My beloved oak tree was strategically and "properly grounded" into the electronic dog fences of two of my neighbors, whose dogs roamed free thereafter!

LarryK4 said...

I hope they did not go digging into the soil at the old landfill.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a civil discussion -- most of my questions were answered: Yes, you would have to ingest the lead contaminated soil; yes, someone knows how to spell "lightning," (hey, Larry: it's lose for lost to you); and, finally, someone has heard of lightning rods (or the equivalent thereof). We're making progress here, Friends!

By the way, Larry, you might want to watch your florid prose: I thought someone really had detonated something (physically) at the SB. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Can the soil be safely left outside in an uncovered pile blowing in the wind? If so, why bury it in a landfill and why the $250K in disposal fees?

LarryK4 said...

Good question. I'm told that the DEP considers a layer of grass to be "covering".

Although some of those piles look to me like they don't even have that for a covering.

Anonymous said...

Go to Localocracy to see who supports the solar panel project. See any familiar names on the supporter side of the column??? Like the infamous Andy Churchill who, when on the school committee voted to buy those costly portables for Marks Meadow, that were never used, never needed, and actually cost money to get rid of? Hmmm, be careful who you get into bed with.