Tired of the same old environmental cleanup regulations? Well, your time has come. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has proposed sweeping changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000) as part of the agency’s regulatory reform effort to enhance regulatory efficiency. The proposed changes are focused on eliminating unnecessary permits, streamlining site classification and deed notice requirements, increasing opportunities for achieving site closure, increasing transparency related to site closure conditions, and updating cleanup standards based on the most recent science.
The draft regulations are being called “the new MCP” and represent the most complete overhaul of environmental regulations governing oil and hazardous material spills since 1993 when the MCP was implemented. The proposed changes have been grouped into major topic areas as follows:
Permit/Tier Classification and Numerical Ranking System
Activity and Use Limitations
Vapor Intrusion and New Site Closure Provisions
Nonaqueous Phase Liquid and Source Control, and
Risk Assessment and MCP Standards
A summary of the proposed regulatory changes was presented to the Licensed Site Professional Association (LSPA) monthly member meeting on April 9, 2013 by MADEP (Click Here).
Public comment on the draft regulations ended on May 17, 2013. A comprehensive response to Public Hearing Draft - Proposed Amendments to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, 310 CMR 40.0000 was prepared by the LSPA which summarized the comments of the LSP community. The LSPA submitted a general comments letter for the major topic areas (Click here), and a set of regulation specific comments and recommendations covering the full scope of the proposed changes (Click here).
The original schedule for implementation of the “new MCP” was July 2013, although MADEP has recently indicated it would like to see the new regulation in effect by late 2013 or early 2014.
If you are wondering how the proposed changes to the MCP may affect your property or a future property you contemplate buying, please feel free to contact us.
Norfolk Ram Group supports the Licensed Site Professional Association.
Charles Young, Associate (508) 747-7900 x126
Many businesses and business owners have so many different things taking their time and attention, that its very easy to forget to take some simple steps to protect the environment. In the latest issue of Cape & Plymouth Business magazine, we have presented an article on Good Stewardship Practices to protect our Water Resources . The article has lots of tips for different strategies and things to consider to protect our surrounding water resources.
Also, this will be my last blog post at Norfolk Ram. After 10 years here, I'm starting a new opportunity and I wanted to take this chance to say thank you. Thank you to everyone I have worked with over these past years, it really has been great. I've learned a lot and made some great friendships along the way. I would recommend Norfolk Ram to anyone looking for environmental service. These are caring, considerate environmentally focused people that work for their clients and for the environment. Thank you to all!
As I am writing this we are in the early days of April having just wrapped up a Brownfields project with the Town of Plymouth. This was a marathon project with the goal of getting all earthwork completed by April 1st. That’s when the fish come in. All work had to be completed by that date which was no small feat as we combated springtime snow storms, rainfall events and the impending onslaught of herring.
Historical Topographic Map Showing the Site in 1889
We began environmental investigations at the former Plymco Mill several years ago. The property sits on the historic Town Brook in Plymouth, Massachusetts. For well over two hundred years a mill sat at this location making leather goods, snuff, cotton and woolen textiles, metals products, and machinery. Most recently the mill was used for lumber goods. The environmental cleanup of the former Plymco Mill is a small part of a larger Town Brook restoration and dam removal project. The project will remove two failing dams, restore fish passage and habitat, and provide open space and a recreational corridor which will extend from the Plymouth Harbor to the Billington Sea. The Billington Sea is not a sea but a large pond first sighted in the distance by a young pilgrim named Francis Billington, but I digress.
Historical Plan from 1906 showing Mill, Workshops, and other structures
One of the primary goals of the Town Brook restoration project is enhanced fish passage for herring and other spawning fish. If you remember your elementary school history these are THE fish… the same ones that Samoset, Squanto, and their contemporaries used to show the pilgrims how to plant their corn crops (well maybe the distant cousins of those fish). The imminent arrival of these fish has been a constant specter looming over all our timeline discussions for the past several months.
Earthworks at the Plymco with Town Brook in the foreground
Earlier this year a grant from MassDevelopment ensured that the Plymco Mill remediation portion of this project would become a reality. Norfolk coordinated the public bidding process on behalf of the Town. As we surveyed the crowd of potential bidders at the pre-bid meeting on February 6th there were many skeptical looks when we described that the bidding would close, the project would be awarded, and all earthwork would be completed before April 1st. I tried to convey a sense of overwhelming optimism. The April 1st deadline is a date after which work in the brook would be prohibited so as to not interfere with the spawning of the herring.
Daylighting the channel over Town Brook
The project was awarded on March 4, 2013 to D&C Construction of Rockland Massachusetts. Less than four weeks later over 5,000 tons of contaminated soil and over 600 tons of debris has been trucked off-site, clean fill has been trucked on-site to replace the contaminated soil, buildings have been demolished, a portion of the brook that has been underground for over 100 years is now exposed to daylight, and the beginnings of Plymouth’s newest open space has been created. The only thing left to do is to wait on those historic fish. We are expecting them any day now.
View of newly exposed channel of Town Brook
Kudos and congratulations to the Town of Plymouth for perseverance in getting this accomplished. Truly an earth moving experience.
For more information about this project or Brownfields assessment, remediation, and redevelopment in general, please feel free to contact us.
Jonathan D. Kitchen, PG, LSP – (508) 747-7900 x154
Joseph P. Salvetti, LSP – (508) 747-7900 x127
Many of our clients are surprised to learn that they are eligible to recoup some of the money they have spent cleaning up oil spills and hazardous waste sites via tax breaks. In Massachusetts, one of significant and often overlooked tax break is the Brownfields Tax Credit. The Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credit is, just as the name implies, a true tax credit. It provides certain taxpayers with a credit for the cleanup of properties in economically distressed areas. You may, or may not, be surprised to find that huge swaths of the state are considered economically distressed areas, including some communities that most of us would consider fairly affluent.
If you have land pollution clean-up costs associated with your redevelopment project, you may qualify for as much as a 50% refund of these costs in the form of a tax credit, through a Massachusetts funded program.
You may also qualify for Federal incentives and other financing opportunities.To find out more, please download our free Brownfield Redevelopment Cleanup Financing Opportunities Information Kit.
According to the Massachusetts Tax Credit Transparency Report , in 2011 approximately 80 taxpayers took advantage of this credit achieving a combined tax savings of over $40,000,000. That may seem like a lot, but it is widely believed that this represents only a fraction of those who are eligible.
A Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive is also available to some taxpayers. This incentive allows for environmental cleanup costs at eligible properties to be fully deductable in the year incurred, rather than capitalized and spread over a period of years. In this case, it is possible to claim the incentive even if the taxpayer caused the release/contamination. In the past this incentive was not available for sites with only petroleum contamination, but in 2006 the rules were changed to include these sites. Past tax returns can also be amended to include deductions for past cleanup expenditures.
If you have questions about brownfields tax credits and incentives, Norfolk would be happy to talk with you and point you in the right direction. Please contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 x154 or use our contact form to tell us a little about your situation and someone will be in touch soon.
More information on the Massachusetts Brownfield Tax Credit is available from the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Revenue . More information on the Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive is available from the EPA.
Norfolk is an environmental consulting and engineering firm which provides technical advice on the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. While Norfolk helps clients identify potential tax benefits, we do not provide tax, legal, or financial advice. Certain restrictions apply to the credits and incentives discussed above. Please be sure to consult with a tax professional.
Citizens Schools is an educational organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day and show students apprenticeships in different career fields. Since February of this year, John McAllister has been volunteering in the Citizens School program at the Normandin Middle School in New Bedford, MA. The class of about 13 students, has been learning about the design process, putting together professional design drawings, water supply, and how different cultures have different access to their water supply. Last week, Wayne Perry from our office, came in as a guest speaker to discuss their public water supply in New Bedford and help the students create design drawings for increasing the pumping efficiency for a water supply in rural Uganda. (The project is actually a derivation of an active project that the Tufts University Engineers without Borders group is implementing in Uganda that John McAllister is also active mentor for.)
Wayne Perry working with the students at Normandin Middle School in New Bedford
The Middle School Students will be presenting plans and a model to interested community members on May 7th at 6 p.m. at the school. All are welcome to attend. I would also encourage people if interested to volunteer at a school near year to mentoring in your specialty, you can check it out at Citizens Schools volunteer page . For any questions on the experience, please contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.
We here at Norfolk Ram are big proponents of promoting Low Impact Development strategies, including the use of raingardens. We have designed and overseen the installation of well over 75 raingardens throughout Massachusetts. We are constantly preaching the benefits of raingardens, so we were very happy to see that This Old House recently published a feature promoting raingardens as a water quality management tool.
They also published an article discussing the use of rainbarrels as part of a rainwater collection or rainwater harvesting systems. Rain barrels and rainwater harvesting systems are an effective way of re-using rainwater for irrigation and other purposes. They can reduce dependence on municipal water supplies and allow you to meet your irrigation needs even when their are municipal water restrictions.
To learn more about raingardens, please download our free raingarden brochure and our Low Impact Development presentation . And for more information on rain barrels and rainwater harvesting, you can see our previous blog posts on rainwater harvesting If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Mark Bartlett or John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 131 and 117 respectively.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection announced recently that the Governor's administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding wiht the Cape Cod Commission to develop a Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan. $3.35 million in funding will be provided for the development of this plan.
The Cape has been plagued with water quality issues resulting from excessive nutriets like nitrogen being discharged into its embayments and other water bodies from septic systems. These excessive nutrients have lead to algae blooms, closure of shell fishing beds and other issues.
Experts have estimated the total costs to implement the solutions to the nutrient problems could range anywhere from $3 to $8 billion. As part of the Water Quality Management Plan, water resources will be prioritized based non impairment and actions and water quality goals for each water body will be laid out. Another feature of the plan would be to develop a wastewater "Smart Map" that will link land use data with scientific and financial planning data to identify appropriate and affordable wastewater infrasture solutions.
Algae Bloom in a Fresh Water Pond
For more information on wastewater treatment options, please download our white paper on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Options in Massachusetts, check our wastewater treatment page or contact Kevin P. Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130.
Information from this article taken from the March 21, 2013 press release from MA DEP titled "Commonwealth Signs Pact with Cape Cod Commission to Develop Water Quality Management Plan"
New Bedford appears to be the latest Massachusetts municipality set to create a new ordinance with respect to stormwater runoff. The mayor submitted an amendment to the city's Code of Ordinance on Feb. 21 to include a stormwater management ordinance. The ordinance will help the city comply with the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (known as NPDES) Stormwater Phase II permit program. This program, which is based on the density of population of an area, has a goal of reducing pollutants and contaminant being discharged by municipal storm sewers.
The proposed ordinance would establish minimum requirements to control adverse effects of runoff, reduce sediment and nutrient loading, and control erosion and sedimentation from construction activities. Once in effect, any developer who will significantly alter or move land, change drainage patterns, or adding impervious areas, would have to obtain a stormwater permit from the City through the Department of Infrastructure.
The City Ordinance would likely be similar to guidelines set out by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in its Stormwater Policy released in 2008. The MA DEP Stormwater Policy applies to certain projects that would also require a filing under the Wetlands Protection Act. While we haven't seen the proposed ordinance, we assume it would apply similar standards to development projects whether they are upland project or within the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Protection Act.
Norfolk Ram is a leader in Massachusetts in Low Impact Development strategies for stormwater management. For more information on Low Impact Development, please download our free LID presentation and please check out our Raingarden brochure which highlights the benefits of one such LID strategy known as raingardens, or bioretention cells. For further information on stormwater management, please see our stormwater management and drainage page or contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.
Information for this blog post was taken from a March 12, 2013 article by Auditi Guha in the Standard Times titled " New Bedford to adopt new stormwater ordinance."
The National Academies' National Research Council (NRC) released a report on November 8 titled "Alternatives for Managing the Nation's Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites." According the report, there are at least 126,000 sites around the country that contain residual contamination at levels too high for site closure. The report estimates that cleaning up these sites will cost well over $100 billion dollars to remediate.
The report cautions that the total number of sites and costs are probably under-reported, because of the way sites are tracked and its difficult to project long term management of sites. Many of the remaining sites are some of the most difficult sites to remediate, so there is no certainty about the effectiveness of any planned remediation for them, further clouding matters.
Remediation efforts will not remove all groundwater contamination for all sites, so the report contains a call for an evaluation process to determine when or whether to transition a site to active or passive long term management. The report also calls for a database that could be used to compare the performance of remedial technologies at complex sites.
This reports reconfirms that there is plenty of work to be done and plenty of obstacles along the way as the nation works to remediate groundwater contamination from sites.
To learn more about groundwater contamination or to discuss a particular brownfield site, please see our Site Remediation and Brownfields Redevelopment pages and for information on financing see the Brownfields Redevelopment financing page. To further discuss, please contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 extension 154.
Information for this article taken from article entitled "Groundwater Contamination to Cost Billions, Persist for Decades, NRC Says" by Jay Landers, pages 24-26 in the January 2013 edition of Civil Engineering Magazine.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency, through its Region 1 office has issued an update to its Draft Small MS4 Permits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The single draft permits for all Massachusetts watersheds are expected to be issued this Spring.
The MS4 permits are issued under the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System which is authorized under the Clean Water Act. The MS4 programs designate reporting requirements and encourage municipalities to implement stormwater treatment and management practices. The goals of the permit program are intended to reduced the pollutant loadings into our nation's waterways.
The MS4 programs apply to communities that fit the EPA's definition of an urbanized area. An urbranized area is defined as "a densely settled core of census tracts and/or census blocks that have population of at least 50,000, along with adjacent territory containing non-residential urban land uses as well as territory with low population density included to link outlying densely settled territory with the densely settled core. It is a calculation used by the Bureau of the Census to determine the geographic boundaries of the most heavily developed and dense urban areas." As you will see on the graphic below, MS4 areas can cover part or the whole of a municipality, depending on its population density.
To learn more about Norfolk's stormwater management and municipal engineering services please see the respective pages or contact John B. McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.