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Falmouth’s wind energy Superfund clean-up: Who pays?

Mr. Eric Turkington (Falmouth State Representative from 1989 to 2009) recently penned an article in a local newspaper calling for the State to step-up and acknowledge it’s responsibility for Falmouth’s wind fiasco. His itemized accounting of Falmouth’ wind project events strike upon many parallels with another Falmouth upheaval. That one involved the tainting of a drinking water well in the Ashumet Valley section of Falmouth over 30 years ago.

In 1979 Falmouth commissioned a new town water well. And for awhile, everything seemed to work fine. But then a water quality test detected dangerous chemicals. Suddenly Falmouth had to shutdown the well water production. It was a brand new well, with brand new equipment that had previously passed all testing. But a year-and-a-half later the well was contaminated. Citizens became concerned about their health, property values and safety. Oddly mimicking all the same points of contention indicated by present Falmouth residents.

Initially, the Massachusetts Military Reservation (aka; Camp Edwards, Otis ANGB) leaders ignored Falmouth’s questions and attempts of dialog about the groundwater plume problem emitting from the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). Private wells were turned off by order of the town, bottled water was provided to the effected citizens, and the military eventually paid to connect entire neighborhoods to the town water main.

A high-ranking Pentagon official finally ordered the MMR leadership to cooperate with Falmouth town hall and it’s citizens. And after numerous public debates regarding the best way to clean-up its mess, the Air Force began treating the Ashumet Valley Plume in 1999 – 18 years after it was discovered. In all, the Air Force has compensated municipal water providers over $50 million to date for lost resources and to establish municipal connections, and has compensated towns and cranberry farmers for lost crops due to plumes.

Could it be now, poor and misleading State guidance, planning and the lack of regulatory oversight has placed another section of town, indeed all of Falmouth, in jeopardy?

At Falmouth’s Fall Town Meeting earlier this month the validity of adverse health effects from a turbine sited too close to residents won near unanimous support. The article, calling for municipal turbine suspension, was continued into a second night since, at meeting end (11:30 pm), the town moderator observed that 21 citizens remained to be heard.

Town Hall officials negotiated a deal with the neighborhood petitioners of the article, prior to the subsequent evening’s Town Meeting. Before Town Meeting, Selectmen had an emergency meeting where they adopted the provisions of the agreement made with neighbors.

The shutdown of Wind I was clearly desired by Town Meeting Members, and ordered by Selectmen, to protect resident’s health and well being. While in the short term, additional information will be collected from Wind II’s limited operation to better assess town hall remediation efforts.

Many Falmouth tax payers, those immediately effected by Wind I as well as those concerned about financial burden of such a mistaken wind project, are asking, ‘how did such an expensive municipal infrastructure project become such a debacle’? More directly, who should be held accountable for the financial extortion of such a snafu?

Falmouth citizens can’t help asking who’s to blame in this screw-up? Who are the financially liable accomplices that, with convincing turbine expertise, advised Falmouth officials to make such a costly mess? Mr. Turkington’s article, steeped with State manipulative evidence, argues that the point has been reached where the responsibility to fix the Falmouth wind situation has become the state’s, not the town’s.

A question then. Is the “Falmouth Wind Tunnel” calamity the first renewable energy version of “Love Canal”? The U.S. Government and the Air Force ultimately owned it’s responsibility, allocated funding and continues fixing the Falmouth contaminated water problem. What responsibility should be pressed upon the State for it’s malign wind turbine advise, consultation and salesmanship which clearly resulted in similarly serious health and well-being violations, not to mention un-budgeted municipal costs? Any comment Mr. Governor?

Mark J. Cool
Falmouth, MA