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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  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  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 , 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, kschulte@endcaptech.com, and Mark Dakers of the DEP, Mark.Dakers@state.ma.us.

blueskies September 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM
So glad to know coucil has agreed on their plan...but i must have fallen asleep...WHEN did the public have input? Next meeting is before councilor Weydt'sinformational session. And i still haven't heard a date for the stae officials to hold a meeting in Attleboro as they did in Norton.... So confusing!! Am so glad it is not near me..Oh wait a minute the proposed plan IS within walking distance of my house!
Sarah September 12, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Blais and Cook puking back the agenda of the mayor. Well this is a shock. I watched the meeting last night in it was chock full of foolishness. Peter grandstanding as usual stating that DEP wants the landfill capped does not mean the the City of Attleboro has to pay for it! Ofcourse the DEP wants it capped that is thier primary position on all landfills.
GiGi Grace September 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Cook encourages Attleboro residence to submit their comments to City Hall! So, he can screen them and only send the ones the Mayor approves of. Come on people wake up. Cook and Blais spouting the administrations agenda. Can't wait until Kirby comes in with his comments. And he lives on the route. No wonder he wanted to move.
Jerry Chase September 12, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I'll believe what Richard Conti says over what Dumas, Cook, Blais, or Kirby ever says . . . on anything!
Roxanne Houghton September 12, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Last night's meeting was very telling, but no real surprises.....Councilors' Weydt, Conti. Thibideau, DiLisio and Council Woman Sara Lynn Reynolds stood with the people of the city. All five openly expressed concerns for the health and well-being of the human beings that will be affected by the capping of the "dump" with contaminated and noxious material and the dangers of truck traffic on Pike Ave. Thanks to all 5. A special thanks to Sara Lynn Reynolds - she just wouldnt let go of the fact that the health concerns of the area residents are a valid issue. I was dissapointed with Council President Frank Cook, as he tried, once again, to perpetuate the myth that DEP will come down - order Attleboro into submission and the residents will have no choice. I dont like scare tactics. There are laws that govern DEP, just like any other agency. Public hearings and citizen imput is required by statute when DEP becomes involved in any project - unless there is an extreme emergency. His statement was the low point of the meeting - very old school and did nothing to help the residents. Mr. Cook is very well aware of the health affects of a project like the one proposed. We have discussed it. Mr. Blais's statements were no surprise. Old school - not well informed - threatened us with DEP "storm trooper" behavior. Once again, he has zero concept or respect for public safety. The residents of Ward 4 have suffered enough sickness because of the contaminants at the "dump".

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