Friday, June 11, 1999
Oil spill at One River Road
Once again, an underground oil tank leaked and this time it occurred at a commercially-zoned site which was denied permission for a cellular communications tower due to concerns about the tanks. On June 3, two underground oil tanks were removed at One River Road, owned by Renfroe Realty Trust, and one of the tanks, located in the wetlands buffer zone, was found leaking.
Building inspector Bob Koning was on site when the tanks were removed and he said it was readily apparent that there was leakage, that it "looked substantial,...and you could smell it." Koning then notified the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency responsible for overseeing hazardous waste sites and ultimately responsible for assuring compliance. Koning also notified the Carlisle Conservation Commission, due to the wetlands involvement and the Carlisle Board of Health. The property manager, Chip Orcutt, was informed that he would need a licensed site professional and environmental clean-up company.
ConsCom administrator Katrina Proctor explained that commissioners had issued an order of conditions for the work in the buffer zone. She explained that erosion controls had not been required because they believed it would be a simple and quick removal of the tank situated 65 feet from the wetlands. However, she was to be notified immediately if there was evidence of comtamination so the site could be secured. On Friday, Proctor visited the site and required that hay bales be placed around the areas and excavated piles be covered with a tarp.
Also on Friday, board of health agent Linda Fantasia visited the site and she too, commented on the strong petroleum odor. However, she said that it is difficult to determine the extent of the contamination until Clean Harbors, the licensed site professional (LSP) and clean-up company, arrives on Monday to begin site assessment. She explained that they can then begin removing contaminated soil and testing it. The local boards then have little authority. "It's between the LSP and DEP and done in accordance with Massachusetts Contingency Plans. We're not involved in telling them what to do, but we're generally kept informed," Fantasia said.
All underground oil tanks were to be removed by December 31, 1998 and it was violation of that mandate which led the board of appeals to "deny without prejudice" the application from Nextel for a cellular communications tower on that site. Referring to their decision of April 29 and the news of the contamination, board of appeals chair Midge Eliassen commented, "This validates the conservative approach to permitting any operation where there is potential fuel oil contamination." However, Eliassen added that she believed not all residents were aware that the board's denial meant that Nextel could return once the oil tank issue was cleared up. What remains unclear is the how the six-month moratium on cell tower construction, approved at the May Town Meeting, will impact their application.
Somewhat frustrated that some underground oil tanks remain in Carlisle, in violation of the mandate, Fantasia took advantage of the opportunity to note, "This shows how important it is to get those tanks out." According to the town's ruleas and regulations, the board can assess fines for violations on a daily basis.
Members are currently compiling a list of properties which might be in violation and sending letters to those homeowners for verification. Once an accurate list is in hand, the board will determine an appropriate course of action.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito