Speaking before the City Council on Tuesday, Mayor Kevin Dumas defended his signing of an agreement that would allow thousands of trucks to travel through Attleboro after delivering contaminated material to a local landfill as part of a plan to cap the environmentally dangerous site as ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Dumas told the council he would prefer the material be delivered to the site on Peckham Street in Attleboro near the Norton line via railroad. City Councilor Jonathan Weydt asked him why he signed the 2009 trucking route deal with the soil/sediment management firm EndCap Technology if he favored the use of rail. Dumas responded that a "last-case scenario" was needed if a rail plan did not materialize.
"We need to be in the position to be able to go through and have something in place," Dumas said. "We're not going to wait until something gets shoved down our throat [by the Massachusetts DEP]."
Weydt, who wrote about the agreement last week on Patch that the mayor called , said at Tuesday's meeting that signing the deal for a truck route prior to finalizing a preferred rail plan was "putting the cart before the horse."
The Massachusetts DEP issued an enforcement order for the landfill to be capped in the 1990s. The capping was completed on a portion of the site in 2002, but an eight-acre section remains exposed, presenting a threat of groundwater contamination and other dangers.
Landfill owner Albert Dumont says he does not have the money to finish the job. EndCap is willing to cover the cost on the condition it be allowed to deliver 650,000 cubic yards of "slightly contaminated material" to the site. Using trucks, the plan would take an estimated three to four years with at least 35 vehicles making deliveries six days a week from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Rail delivery would take several more years, but backers say it would be better because it would not damage local roads.
The 2009 agreement signed by Dumas and EndCap President Kurt Schulte does not include the all the details about the capping plan, but rather only the portion featuring the route through Attleboro the empty trucks would take after delivering the material. Also as part of the agreement, EndCap would pay Attleboro 25 cents per ton of delivered material.
The remainder of the plan, including the route the loaded trucks would take through Norton (which EndCap has also offered 25 cents per ton) and Taunton (which has been offered nothing and is asking for $1 per ton) to reach the landfill, is included in other documentation, but not in any official agreement.
Also at the meeting on Tuesday, the council voted 11-0 (Councilor Mark Cooper was absent) for council committees to consider two proposals. One proposal is a resolution written by Councilor Walter Thibodeau, who said Council President Frank Cook helped with the "wordsmithing." The resolution calls for the Massachusetts DEP and EndCap "to develop an alternative plan ... minimizing the impact on the residents of Attleboro, Taunton, and Norton, while simultaneously reducing the expense involved in this process."
The Committee on Transportation & Traffic, which Thibodeau heads, will consider the resolution next week. If OK'd by the committee, the resolution would go before the full council the following week for possible ratification prior to the Sept. 28 deadline to submit comments on the plan to the Massachusetts DEP.
The other proposal approved on Tuesday for committee review came from Councilor Richard Conti, who wants an ordinance written that would require the city to receive a payment of $2.52 per ton of material delivered "for access by truck on public ways to an established, reopened or new landfill."
Those wishing to submit comments on the capping plan should send them to Mark Dakers of the Massachusetts DEP at Mark.Dakers@state.ma.us.