Councilor Says Urgency on Capping Plan Doesn't Exist
The City Council struggles to come up with a resolution in opposition to the current plan for capping the Attleboro Landfill.
An argument by Mayor Kevin Dumas for why he signed an Attleboro Landfill capping agreement in 2009 that calls for thousands of dump trucks to move through city streets for up to four years may have been debunked at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening if statements made by Councilor Richard Conti are accurate.
Dumas told the council last week that the signed agreement with the soil/sediment management firm EndCap Technology was a "last-case scenario" and that he preferred material used for the capping be delivered to the landfill on Peckham Street via rail rather than truck. But he said the 2009 agreement was needed in case the rail plan fell through and to avoid waiting "until [a plan] gets shoved down our throat [by the Massachusetts DEP]."
Councilors Frank Cook and Peter Blais made similar statements at this week's meeting, saying the DEP—which ordered the capping in the 1990s—could decide to force the project at any time and if no plan were in place, the state agency could implement its own method.
Conti said this would never happen, an opinion he said was based on conversations he had with DEP officials.
"The Mass. DEP cannot force the capping of that landfill," Conti said. "It can sit there for another 200 years with no cap on it."
Patch has not confirmed the accuracy of this statement.
Conti clarified that it would be a bad idea not to cap the landfill, which presents an environmental danger of a disputed significance. But he stressed the threat of a DEP intervention did not exist.
The capping project was a topic at the council meeting because a proposed resolution written by Councilor Walter Thibodeau with the "wordsmithing" of Cook on EndCap's current plan was before a committee headed by Tibodeau. Only the three-member committee could vote on the resolution, but all the councilors in attendance could discuss the document.
EndCap's current plan involves the delivery of 650,000 cubic yards of "slightly contaminated material" to the landfill via truck through the streets of Norton and Taunton from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., six days a week for up to four years. The trucks would leave the site through the streets of Attleboro. The mayor's agreement only includes the Attleboro portion of the truck route. EndCap has no signed agreement with Norton or Taunton.
The material would be used to shape the landfill prior to capping. Use of this material is not necessary, but this is the only way EndCap would be willing to pay for the capping because it would be making money disposing of various clients' waste in the process. Landfill owner Albert Dumont claims he does not have the money to complete the capping project.
The general sentiment of the proposed resolution is that the council wants a new capping plan, but councilors sparred over how this should be stated.
While some councilors wanted the resolution to include a statement in opposition to the mayor's agreement that was reached without council or public input, others said this was not needed and could be harmful.
"I think we are hurting ourselves if we get into this little catfight … over what was or wasn't done," Cook said.
Councilor Jonathan Weydt, who has been the most vocal critical of the mayor's agreement and is the representative of the ward featuring most of the truck route, questioned the logic behind Dumas' statement last week that the agreement was only a backup plan. He said he did not understand the logic behind this.
"You're not going to sign plan B without having plan A," Weydt said.
After nearly two hours of debate, the councilors appeared to have reached consensus on the wording of the resolution, which was approved by the committee. This does not mean one should expect a short discussion next week when the document goes before the full council, as debate may have ended Tuesday due to exhaustion and a desire to end what was essentially the preliminary round. Also, three councilors were not at the meeting and the absentees may have input when they return next week.
If approved by a council majority, the resolution will go to the DEP and EndCap, which are collecting comments on the plan through Sept. 28. Cook encouraged Attleboro residents to submit their comments to City Hall, and they would be forwarded as a package to the agencies. It is not necessary to do this. Residents can send their comments directly to the agencies by sending emails to Kirk Schulte of EndCap, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Mark Dakers of the DEP, Mark.Dakers@state.ma.us.