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General Chemical Hearing Could Last Months

The first in a series of Board of Health hearings on General Chemical got underway last night with Framingham's Director of Health reporting that there could be safety and health threatening issues at the site, which is adjacent to Woodrow Wilson School.

South Framingham residents gathered at Monday night to hear they will not get a quick resolution to possible environmental contamination from a chemical waste transfer station facility in their neighborhood.

The Framingham held the first of a series of site assignment public hearings on whether is an appropriate occupant of the site off Leland Street.

In opening remarks, Board of Health Chair Michael Hugo said the evening was the first of “several” hearings, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 3.

The facility, General Chemical, is next to Wilson elementary school and in a mostly residential section of Leland Street.

Residents are concerned about soil and water contamination from the company and possible hazards to school children from fumes, dust and the various chemicals that pass through the site.

“We feel they don’t need to be here any more,” said Sidney Faust, a spokesperson for FACES or Framingham Action Coalition for Environmental Safety. “We don’t need a transfer station in our neighborhood.”

Bruno Mourao, a FACES supporter, has a son in Wilson’s kindergarten. “We did not know about the chemicals when we moved here,” he said. “No one knows the consequences. It could be deadly in a few years.”

Board of Health Chair Hugo reminded the 100 or so residents in the school's auditorium the Board can only act if the hearing determines that General Chemical poses a threat to the public health and safety of Framingham residents. He further said the Board of Health is not a licensing agency.

If the board of Health finds that General Chemical is a threat to public health and safety, it could go as far as ordering the company to shut down operations.

In opening remarks, Framingham Health Director Ethan Mascoop reported that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and his department spotted a number of unsafe and possibly hazardous situations during spot checks of General Chemical.

Among the issues were leaking drums, emptying of vacuum trucks in parking lots, exposed asbestos, standing water in parking lots and in buildings after storms and rusted valves on hazardous waste tanks.

Massachusetts DEP has fined General Chemical a number of times and is waiting for the company to file a clean-up plan for the site. The plan is due on Sept. 29.

General Chemical asked that its opening statement be part of the hearing on Nov. 3.

Residents around General Chemical are concerned about contamination of the soil and ground water and what that might mean for children who play in the area and go the Wilson Elementary School.

DEP maps showed a chemical plume flowing from the site and away from Wilson.

According to Mascoop, the Wilson Elementary School building has an impervious layer in the foundation that toxic or hazardous fumes and ground water can’t penetrate.

“There is no danger to children in the school,” he said.

 

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