Every January the Massachusetts Municipal Association holds its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This year, as always, Norfolk is exhibiting at the conference. Please come by our booth (number 912), and say hi to Wayne and John. Or if you are going to be around on Saturday, come say hello to Mark.
The Massachusetts State Legislature recently passed a bill that would set aside $17 million for the repair or removal of unsafe, abandoned dams or dams that have outlived their usefulness. This bill should make it easier for cities and towns to repair or remove weakening dams or seawalls.
The bill would require emergency plans be created for all dams that are inspected and found to be at a high or significant hazard of failure. The bill would also set up a State Revolving Loan Fund, similar to what is in place for Clean Water projects, to provide low-interest loans to private dam owners and to cities and towns to inspect, repair and remove dams.
In addition to the inland dam provisions of the bill, a portion of the money will also go towards coastal infrastructure improvements, including jetties, retaining walls and levies. A report from the Department of Conservation and Recreation had identified $1 billion in needed repairs to over 140 miles of sea walls on Massachusetts' coast.
The bill will help improve the health of rivers and the marine wildlife by restoring the natural flow of waterways that have been blocked by dams that have outlived their usefulness.
The last notable provision of the bill is that it will set up an inspection schedule to ensure that all "high hazard dams" are inspected at least every two years and all "significant hazard dam" are inspected at least every five years.
For questions or more information about dam inspections and dam safety, please contact Mark S. Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.
Information for this post taken from a January 1, 2013 Cape Cod Times article entitled "Mass. lawmakers OK bill to repair, remove old dams" by Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press and a January 2, 2013 article in the Boston Globe titled "Mass OK's bill to fund seawalls, dam work" by Kathy McCabe.
For some time the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been reporting that they are in the process of writing proposed changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). We recently heard that DEP expects to have these changes available for public comment this fall, with a goal of implementing the changes next summer.
Although the draft regulations have yet to be published, the key changes to the regulations have been widely discussed by the DEP, Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs), and the regulated community. Based upon these discussions, Norfolk anticipates that the regulation changes will have an overall positive impact on most of the cleanups we are conducting for our clients.
Key changes, as they are currently reported, are summarized below:
Simplify Permits – Under the proposed regulations Tier I and Tier II sites will be permitted by the same process. Currently permitting for Tier I sites involves a significant additional cost and effort.
Simplify the Tier Classification Process – Currently site are “scored” and classified into groups (Tier IA, Tier IB, Tier IC, Tier ID, and Tier II) based upon risk based criteria using a somewhat cumbersome numerical ranking system (NRS) developed nearly 20 years ago. The proposed regulations will seek to eliminate/combine the Tier I sub-classifications (except Tier ID, which applies to “default” site which are out of compliance) and will also seek to replace the NRS with simplified Tier I Criteria.
Streamline Activity and Use Limitations (AULs) – The regulation changes will reportedly seek to streamline the AUL process potentially eliminating a significant amount of paperwork and redundancy. This change, in concept, has the potential to save clients money by reducing the cost of preparing these documents. As with all the changes, the devil is in the details.
Change Response Action Outcome (RAO) Classes – An RAO statement is the document that parties file to achieve regulatory closure. Currently the RAOs are classified into groups such as Class A1, Class, A2, Class B1, Class C1, etc. These classes have little to no meaning to most clients and the general public. DEP is proposing to replace these classifications with different categories with descriptive names such as “Permanent Solution With No Conditions”, “Permanent Solution With Conditions”, “Temporary Solution”, and others.
Allow for a Permanent Solution at Sites with Active Mitigation Systems to Abate Vapor Intrusion - Over the years vapor intrusion and the identification and prevention of indoor air exposures has become one of the most important issues in environmental cleanups. One proven way to prevent exposure is through the use of sub-slab venting systems (similar to radon mitigation systems). Currently in Massachusetts, sites which rely on sub-slab venting systems cannot achieve regulatory closure through a permanent solution. The proposed regulations will reportedly seek to allow a permanent solution “with conditions” for these sites.
Allowing for a Permanent Solution at Sites with >0.5 inches of NAPL - Elimination of the rigid rule which currently prevents permanent regulatory closure when more than 0.5 inch of non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL, a.k.a. petroleum product) is present on the water table. The proposed rule would reportedly allow for LSPs to demonstrate No Significant Risk and source control to achieve a permanent solution (i.e. regulatory closure). This change may allow for regulatory closure at a number of sites that have been open for many years.
While all the above sounds good… details regarding one significant change remains “to be determined.” Because DEP fees are currently assessed based upon Tier Classification, the proposed regulation changes will most certainly require a change to DEP fees.
Additional details regarding the proposed regulations changes are available within the following presentation .
Norfolk will continue to track these regulatory changes to evaluate how they will affect our clients. If you are a client and want to know more about how the proposed changes might affect your site, please contact your Norfolk project manager. If you are not currently a client and have questions about the proposed changes, please contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 x154 or complete our on-line contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.
The Massachsusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) recently announced the implementation of what will initially be a voluntary program to reduce the amount of the toxic chemical perchloroethylene, also know as Perc. If the voluntary program does not yield significant reductions in four years, the reductions and the program will then become mandatory.
Perc is a chlorinated solvent that the US Dept. of Health and Human Services has named as a likely carcinogen to humans. The program will encourage the use of safer alternatives to perc, and will be reflected in the dry cleaners annual compliance certifications, which are regulated by MA DEP through the federal Clean Air Act.
As part of the program, there will be voluntary “comparative analysis” that will help dry cleaners understand and compare the benefits and costs, including risks of and alternatives to perc. The plan also outlines a process by which goals for perchloroethylene use will be set to encourage an accelerated rate of reductions, and the voluntary comparative analysis will become mandatory if the goals are not met.
To read more about the program and the announcement, you can read the state's press release here.
To learn more about Norfolk Ram's environmental remediation services and dealing with or alternatives to the use of Perc, visit our webpage or contact Charles Young at (508) 747-7900 extension 126.
Norfolk's engineers have been working with officials with the Town of Westport and the Westport River Watershed Association to design and implement a series of stormwater management BMPs, including raingardens to treat runoff from the impervious areas at the Westport Middle School. Construction on some of the BMPs began in August, with the Westport Highway Department installing the BMPs. Recently the Westport Shorelines newspaper came out and did a cover story on the project and its benefits to the Head of the Westport river. You can read the Shorelines article here.
The project is being funded through the EPA and MA DEP through a section 319 Non-point source Pollution Grant, which Norfolk helped the Town of Westport successfully apply for. You can read more about Norfolk's role in the project from our Project Summary on our Municipal Services Page .
If you have questions about stormwater management, low impact development, or even about grant funding for stormwater projects, please contact John B. McAllister P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extenions 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week the State of Connecticut House and Senate passed a bill which would phase out the state fund for reimbursement of petroleum clean-up costs and terminate the underground storage tank clean-up review board. Over the past several years the fate of the fund has been in question because of insufficient financial resources to pay out claims. This legislation provides $36 million dollars to pay out claims over the next 4 fiscal years. Available information implies that municipalities and small business owners may receive complete payment for existing claims, while mid-size and larger companies may only receive pennies on the dollar. The federal government requires UST owners to have sufficient resources to clean-up a leak or spill or maintain insurance. In the past, the state fund had enabled UST owners to comply with these federal requirement.
If you have questions regarding state reimbursement programs for USTs please feel free to contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900.
The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has announced that it has made available the application materials for its latest round of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program.
The program is a consolidation of six former grant programs and provides public infrastructure financing to support economic development and job and housing creation. This includes transportation improvements in small, rural communities, mixed use developments, and redevelopment of previously developed sites. All the relevant materials regardind the program are available at www.mass.gov/hed/massworks
The submission period for grant application runs between August 27 and September 10, 2012, so there is still plenty of time to put together an application. The grant award decisions will be made by the end of October. Last year's program awarded grants to 42 communities throughout Massachusetts; projects that are set to begin construction this spring.
If you have questions about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program or how it could apply to you or your organization, please contact Mark Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.
The Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission just released a report that the State is facing a $21 billion funding gap for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.
Former Norfolk Ram employee and co-chair of the commission Carolyn Dykema stated: “Water is one of our most basic needs, yet we often take the infrastructure that delivers it to our homes and businesses for granted. By making investment in our water system a priority, we are also prioritizing economic growth, job creation, and the sustainability of our communities. This report highlights the work we need to do to fund and maintain this important public asset and lays out a road map for creating a 21st-century water infrastructure system to meet the needs of our Commonwealth.”
Water Infrastructure Committee Chairs -Sen. Jaime Eldridge and Rep. Carolyn Dykema.
The Commission's report determined that a significant increase in spending and funding will be needed to address this funding gap and they have laid out several strategies to do this, including:
- Sustaining current Revolving Fund investments
- Establishing a trust fund
- Promoting BMPs to reduce costs and find efficiencies
- Promoting environmental sustainability and innovation
as well as several other strategies.
For more on the Water Infrastructure Commission's report, please see the release from Representative Dykema's website .
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that is has established a safe level of exposure to the most toxic form of dioxin. The daily dose is set at 0.7 picograms of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) per kilogram of body weight. TCDD is the most toxic congener of the dioxins, which are unintentional by-products of manufacturing processes involving chlorine and the burning of waste or biomass.
Currently in the U.S. backyard waste burning is the highest source of dioxins. People are exposed to dioxins mostly by eating poultry, dairy, fish or eggs. EPA claims that "most Americans have only low-level exposure to dioxins" and that this "does not pose a significant health risk."
Information for this post was taken from the February 27, 2012 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, edited by William G. Schulz and Sophia L. Cai.
Norfolk will attend the Massachusett's Association of Conservation Commissioners (MACC) annual environmental conference at the College of the Holy Cross on March 3, 2012.
The conference is a great exhibition for Conservation Commissioners and Conservation Agents to attend continual education workshops and discuss issues affecting other areas of the Commonwealth.
To see more about the annual conference, please visit the MACC's website.
Learn more about the consulting services Norfolk Ram can provide to local Conservation Commissions or other local boards, feel free to swing by our both at the conference, visit our Municipal Services page, or contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.