The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has cited the Town of Bourne as being deficient in addressing potential hazardous materials leaks at the site of the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center. Mass DEP has warned the town that it faces monetary penalties in the thousands of dollars for not being in compliance with state regulations.
The issue was addressed by Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi during the Bourne Board of Selectmen’s meeting on June 1. Mr. Schiavi explained that the problem dates back to when the site of the community center on Main Street in Buzzards Bay was home to Phil’s Auto Service.
“As many gas stations back in the day, going back maybe to the 1930s, probably had a number of releases into the groundwater either due to spills, leaking underground storage tanks, which I think over the years was close to 20 that were installed and removed over time,” Mr. Schiavi said.
In a letter dated March 9, the DEP warned the town that it had not complied with state law and regulations known as the Massachusetts Contingency Plan. The letter pointed out that state law and the MCP require response actions by the town “to provide for the protection of harm to health, safety, public welfare and the environment which may result from releases of oil and/or hazardous material at disposal sites.”
The DEP’s letter recalled that a Notice of Responsibility for mitigating the site of the community center of any hazardous materials was issued to the Town of Bourne in April 2001. The DEP’s Notice of Noncompliance said that the department “has no record of your completing the response action required by the MCP to address this release.”
The DEP’s notice added that it is within the agency’s authority to assess a penalty “in excess of several thousand dollars if you continue to be in noncompliance.”
Mr. Schiavi told the selectmen that, “for reasons I don’t have answers for,” the last time the town reported anything to the DEP relative to the community center site was in 2006. Prior to that, he said, a number of measures were taken, including soil removal, installation of vapor slab venting in the community center building, as well as injection wells and monitoring wells.
As a result of the notice of noncompliance, Mr. Schiavi said he hired Bennett Environmental Associates of Brewster to survey the site and provide an answer to the DEP. The company found the injection and monitoring wells and did some soil sampling. However, there is a considerable amount of work that remains to be done, Mr. Schiavi said.
“DEP is going to require us of March of next year to notify them of either a temporary or a permanent solution to the site,” he said.
The situation with the community center became apparent when a parcel of land across Main Street became available for sale, Mr. Schiavi said. The owners had to prove no contamination there, but there was some detected in the northwest corner of the property, he said.
Bennett Environmental will be coming back to install more monitoring wells, Mr. Schiavi said. The goal, he said, is to “identify the scope and impact of where some of this contamination might have migrated to, if it did migrate off-site. Then come up with a risk characterization of that to see if there is any potential concern.”
The department will require periodic reports filed by the town until a permanent solution is reached to the situation at that site, he said.
Mr. Schiavi said another site in town that DEP has requested updates on is the location of the National Marine Life Center. He pointed out that the town has not provided DEP with any updates on that site since 2016.
“We’ll have two of these working environmental situations to deal with here in the immediate future,” he said.