CLARKSBURG, Mass. – East Road residents living below Hoosac Wind Power have asked the Selectmen for help in gaining more information about liquid tested at the site.
Lawrence Lorusso of 600 East Road found what he called a “suspicious fluid” below No. 10 turbine, about mile behind his home, on Christmas Day. The state Department of Environmental Protection reported it was groundwater that contained no health risks.
Lorusso and his neighbors say that’s not satisfactory.
“What did they find? I don’t want that stuff in my water,” said Lorusso, whose drinking water comes from a spring well 3,000 feet below the wind farm. He said the pool of liquid was open and smelled bad.
“I never saw any pools like that up there. The only thing that wasn’t frozen was this pool … I’ve seen a lot of vegetation decomposing and it doesn’t smell like that.”
The DEP had the water tested on Feb. 5 at Con-Test Analytical Laboratories in East Longmeadow for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. According to DEP, no compounds were were detected at levels exceeding guidelines, and the “low levels of compounds detected are likely due to the anaerobic degradation of organic materials (wood, leaf litter, etc.)” in the compost used to stabilize the soil around the Florida wind farm. The compounds are reportedly not related to the turbines’ operation but wind farm owner Iberdrola Renewables is working with DEP on the issue.
Chairman Carl McKinney said the town was notified of the results because the complainant was from Clarksburg, but it did not receive the details of the test. Those probably went to the town of Florida, he said, where the site is actually located.
He said he understood the concern of the residents, but noted “you get coliform from degradation of leaves, and grasses and sticks … I have a composter. I wouldn’t eat out of it either but it doesn’t mean it’s toxic.”
Lorusso said he had the water tested on his own and found an oil product, reportedly in small concentrations.
A neighbor, Katherine Swabey, also wanted to know the particulars of what was found and was concerned about her water supply.
“We would like to know what that oil is, and if it’s not at a hazardous level, that’s great,” she said. “But we want to know what it is and we want it to be monitored so when the ground thaws and it rains in the spring … .”
James and Susan Brandon, who also live on East Road, said their concern was a stream that runs below No. 10 turbine and onto their property.
McKinney said the town would ask for the analysis on the residents’ behalf. “It hasn’t fallen on deaf ears here,” said Selectman Jeffrey Levanos of their concerns.
McKinney also read a lengthy response to an email from former Chairwoman Debra Lefave over errors in the town’s recapitulation sheet submitted to the Department of Revenue.
Lefave had pointed to discrepancies she thought could raise the tax rate as much as 4 percent. McKinney said the town had been in conversation with the DOR over the tax rate and while it did not appear to be affected, if it was, the town “will work to reduce it.”
The figures were $45,000 short on what was raised and appropriated; McKinney said original numbers from town meeting were correct but the total was wrong. The $50,000 taken from free cash to lower the tax rate was entered in the wrong box; the difference in the enterprise fund from the town warrant was because of an amendment made on the floor at town meeting; since fiscal 2007, the town had listed one amount to be placed in the revolving police fund account and a higher amount on the recap sheet to reflect another warrant article allowing fees to be collected for the fund. McKinney said DOR has stated the second warrant article should have a dollar figure on it from now on.
It would also suggested that the “staff needs serious training,” with which McKinney agreed. Training had been cut since 2007, he said, and the most of the people working in the town’s departments had only been there a few years, if that.
The DOR was sending a technical assistance team in March to review the town’s financial processes and officials will try to restore some of the training budgets, said McKinney.
In other business,
• The state Department of Transportation rated the bridges at Cross and Henderson roads as 7 and the new bridge on East Road at 9, the highest level.
• The board updated residents on the slight heating oil spill near Red Mills Spring.
• Residents and residential snowplowers were warned that piling, pushing, throwing and plowing snow into the town’s roadways is a bylaw violation with fines of up to $300.
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