FLORIDA – The concerns of a nearby resident led to four sampling tests being taken recently from a seepage near one of the Hoosac Wind Farm’s turbines.
The consensus says a four-foot long, one-inch deep pool of a suspicious-looking liquid is benign – made up of groundwater, sediment and organic materials.
But, according to Clarksburg resident Larry Lorusso, the second of two tests he had performed on a sampling from the pool came back with a 281 parts per million “other petroleum” result, meaning roughly .03 percent of the half-gallon sample tested.
Lorusso described the pool as “ugly-smelling stuff” located a mile behind his house on East Road in Clarksburg, some 200 feet away from the nearest Florida turbine on Bakke Mountain.
He found it while walking his dog on Christmas day.
“It stressed me out, because it’s a hundred yards off from where a stream starts,” Lorusso said.
Lorusso contacted the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who’s since performed their own study, along with Iberdrola Renewables, owners and operators of the wind development.
“It’s not a pool of oil. It’s a groundwater seep,” Katherine Skiba, regional DEP spokesperson said Monday. ” … There were no compounds detected exceeding Massachusetts DEP’s reportable concentrations for release to groundwater.”
Skiba said these concentrations are regulated by the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, which establishes environmental regulations. She added that Iberdrola was aware of and documented the seep during construction, which a company representative confirmed Monday.
Looking ahead, Skiba said DEP is “waiting for results from [Iberdrola’s] analysis to make a determination with regard to further follow-up.”
Iberdrola’s preliminary results came in Monday evening.
“What we found is that nothing in this seep can be traced to anything we are using in the wind turbine,” Paul Copleman, the company’s Communications Manager said. “It’s naturally occurring.”
The turbines, Copleman said, contain a lubricant but “nothing powers [the turbines] other than themselves.”
Lorusso’s first sampling also tested negative to any noxious content. The second encompassed a finer threshold. Both were performed by Spectrum Analytical Inc., in Agawam.
Lorusso thought DEP’s response, taking several weeks, should have been more prompt.
“If neighbors had complained that I’d dumped a barrel of oil in my yard, DEP would have been all over it,” Lorusso said.
Copleman said the company plans to follow up with DEP today, but both he and DEP expressed the belief that their concerns over the substance had been investigated and likely resolved.
Neighbors of the wind farm, on the other hand, have other complaints to air. Florida resident Michael Fairneny has scheduled a press conference today in town to address residents’ complaints of noise from the development.
The state’s largest, the Hoosac Wind Farm comprises 19 turbines, each standing 340 feet tall.
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