Three weeks after roughly 100 people attended a Public Involvement Plan meeting with the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) to voice their concerns and frustrations with the proposed cleanup of the property, the town and DCAM will meet again tonight to discuss how the state agency plans to clean the site up.
"I wanted to thank everyone for coming to the meeting on March 22," said John Thompson, chairman of the town's State Hospital Environmental Review Committee (SHERC). "I thought that was an excellent turnout. I think there was over 100 people here and I thought it was nice to hear people in town voice their opinions about the state hospital."
Thursday's public meeting with DCAM will be held in the Chenery Room (second floor) of at 7 p.m. and focus on the Phase IV aspect of the remediation project, which according to Thompson, will describe how DCAM plans to execute the cleanup. As was the case with the March 22 meeting, Thompson strongly encourages public participation and attendance from fellow residents to let DCAM know the town wants to see full removal of the hazardous waste in the construction and demolition (C&D) area of the Medfield State Hospital site rather than the proposed capping of hazardous materials that DCAM has presented.
"I hope people show up," Thompson said of the April 12 PIP meeting.
At the March 22 meeting, DCAM presented its proposal for remediation of the Medfield State Hospital property, which was widely rejected by frustrated residents. DCAM proposes to cap the hazardous material found in the C&D area – about 3.5 acres – in place on the site and construct a bio-engineered bank along the Charles River to address sediment found there, rather than fully removing all waste from the site.
Residents attending the March 22 meeting told DCAM the state needs to fully remediate the site and remove all hazardous waste because it poses potential risk to residents' and future residents' health as well as potential risk to the town's water supply at Well No. 6.
Medfield residents and , who have both followed the status of the state hospital project and its need for remediation closely, expressed their frustrations at the March 22 meeting that DCAM has been reluctant to completely remove the waste from the site.
According to Massaro, DCAM has argued the contaminants found in the C&D area do not pose a threat to Town Well No. 6, the aquifer or the Charles River and have defended the notion that capping the C&D area would result in a condition of "no significant risk" to future users of the area.
DCAM Commissioner Carole Cornelison, identifying the town and the state agency have opposing views on how to best clean the site up, suggested the town look into mediation with DCAM led by a mutually agreed upon mediator. The town was willing to explore that option following the March 22 meeting and has since put together a mediation team to represent Medfield.
Some residents have told Medfield Patch there will be a planned protest before Thursday's meeting and townspeople are encouraged to participate to send the message to DCAM that the town needs full removal of the toxic waste.
"The more people that show up to the meeting and protest, the stronger a message we send to the state that we need full removal," a resident said in an e-mail to Medfield Patch Thursday morning. "This is an incredibly important topic for our town."
Senator James Timilty, who represent Medfield, attended the March 22 PIP meeting and told DCAM the state owes it to the town to fully remove the waste, regardless of cost.
"I have been involved in the [Medfield State Hospital] process principally over the last eight years as the state senator here in Medfield," Timilty said. ... "Since the principle responsible party [of the state hospital property] is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and since the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is charged with the cleanup, I would say anything less than unrestricted use and access is insufficient for me. And should [complete remediation] be a problem, for say in instance, of cost for what is the most feasible for the Commonwealth, I would suggest that it's the job of the legislature to come up with the money that is appropriate in order to do that.
"We have an obligation to the aquifer, obligation to the Charles River, an obligation to this town and the surrounding communities to make certain it is cleaned up to the point where it satisfies the neighborhood and the town and I think for all of us before we go forward. When it comes down to millions, we spend $30 billion to get the state through a fiscal year. ...
"I'm not going to debate the science because I don't have to, but until or unless we are at unrestricted use and access as the principle responsible party, I wouldn't be satisfied with that. I don't think it's right for the neighborhood or this town and that is exactly what we should do and I won't be satisfied otherwise. I certainly hope we will be in complete agreement both from the commissioner [of DCAM], the administration on down through the legislative body and through the town selectmen and town manager that everybody is happy and most importantly, the abutters that are going to have to live with this for generations to come, we owe it to the generations that come after us to leave better than we inherited."
Sandra Duran, director of building maintenance and operation for DCAM, responded to the Senator's comments, reiterating the proposed plan does not create a situation of "significant risk."
"Those particular sentiments are shared by others in our group," Duran said. "I want to assure [Senator Timilty] that the steps we have taken and the remedy we have do indeed comply with the regulations, with the law and create a situation of 'no significant risk.' To that end, we can certainly spend time, and I would love to be able to provide [Senator Timilty] with [his] own presentation to bring [him] up to speed with some of the science but also in general what our concept was. The remedy we have today is enhanced from our original plan."
Background of the State Hospital Remediation Issue
"The Medfield State Hospital operated from 1892-2003,” John Thompson said. “As part of that operation – because the hospital grounds contained tuberculosis patients and patients with mental illness on many different types of medication – all solid waste at the hospital was required to be cremated, which went through the incinerator at the state hospital.
“Unfortunately, what we are left with today is an area of about three and a half acres that’s about 12-feet thick that is intersecting our water supply and a portion of this property.”
That hazardous material is what the town wants fully removed and what DCAM is trying to leave on the site by capping it in place.
Thursday's meeting will be broadcast on Medfield.TV for those who cannot attend.