U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley held a "Randolph Climate Justice House Party" in Randolph on Saturday, Sep 9, 2023. Here's a clip of her introducing the term "Green Justice" which I will use from now on -- she says the "Inflation Reduction Act" is really the "Green New Deal" with a focus on green jobs, green infrastructure, and green justice.
I asked Ayanna whether she could help with our local "green justice" issue -- getting authorization for PFAS soil testing at a local Superfund site on the Holbrook-Randolph border. A "Superfund site" means a federally-designated toxic waste site -- ours is called "the Baird-McGuire Superfund site" -- and the Holbrook "TLA Trash Transfer Station" is attempting to build on the Superfund site. We delayed them a couple of months ago because they neglected to do any PFAS testing.
The next step is to identify "PFAS hotspots" which I suspect are within the Superfund site. MassDEP has conducted several PFAS water sample tests in wells on the Superfund site, and found high levels of PFAS in 2019. That water runs downstream to our reservoir, so those high PFAS levels are definitely contributing to our drinking water having PFAS levels over the state limit of 20 ppt. I've been pushing to add soil testing -- to find the actual PFAS hotspots -- but we need federal authorization to enter the (locked behind fences) Superfund site.
Rep. Pressley agreed to undertake figuring out the federal authorization, in conjunction with Rep. Steve Lynch, the U.S. Rep for Holbrook. I wrote a letter to Rep. Pressley's staff, which I will rewrite to the two Representatives together.
Two other Randolph Dems commented during our discussion with Rep. Pressley. Randolph Dems Treasurer Sandi Cohen noted that PFAS was the rationale for the Holbrook Conservation Commission denying a continued construction permit for the TLA Trash Transfer Station -- but that's just a temporary delay so we'll need further action (and Rep. Pressley remembered Sandi's name because Ayanna's mother's name is also "Sandra").
Randolph Dems Secretary Emeritus Cheryle Totten further noted that the late Town Councilor Ken Clifton had been instrumental for years in the legal battle against the TLA Trash Transfer Station. Rep. Pressley had name-checked Councilor Clifton as one of her major supporters in her early Congressional campaign -- but evidently Rep. Pressley was unaware that this was one of Ken's biggest issues.
It was a lovely event also attended by Town Council candidate Daija Kirkland; School Committee candidate Ida Gordon; State Senate candidate Kathleen Crogan-Camara; and dozens of others. The event was supposed to be outdoors but we experienced a sudden thunderstorm so we all crammed in to our friend's home unexpectedly -- hence the unusual setting and lighting for Ayanna's speech!
Sept. 9, 2023
To: Rep. Steven Lynch (MA-8), 37 Belmont Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 3, Brockton, MA 02301
And: Rep. Ayanna Presslet (MA-7), 1295 River Street, Hyde Park, MA 02136
Dear Reps. Lynch and Pressley --
I'm seeking your help in getting access to a federal Superfund site in Holbrook, the Baird-McGuire site on the Randolph border. This site has been leaching PFAS into our Tri-Town water supply for many years, and I'd like to conduct soil testing to identify PFAS hotspots, which might then be remediated. Some details:
On July 17, the Holbrook Conservation Commission denied the construction permit for the TLA Trash Transfer Station because they had failed to do PFAS testing, as ordered by the Randolph Town Council and Holbrook Select Board in joint Resolutions in 2022. PFAS has been found in high concentrations in several wells in the Baird-McGuire Superfund site, which overlaps the TLA site and has spillover into Randolph and our Tri-Town reservoir. I'm following up our temporary victory with new joint Randolph-Holbrook actions to strengthen PFAS testing and PFAS remediation when hotspots are found.
I'd like Rep. Lynch's and Rep. Pressley's help in authorizing PFAS testing (and possible PFAS remediation) on the Superfund site -- like a "letter of support" for my PFAS clean-up plan linked below, which has been met with strong pushback from Town officials and equally strong support from voters. Many of the PFAS testing sites would be water testing downstream in Randolph and soil testing on adjacent Randolph properties -- but the target is the Superfund site itself, which is entirely within Holbrook.
MassDEP has conducted a series of PFAS water tests at locations downstream in Randolph, in 2022-2023. Those tests revealed PFAS levels exceeding 20 ppt downstream from the Superfund site (and upstream from the Tri-Town reservoir). That points toward the Superfund site as a PFAS source -- but we'll need further water testing to demonstrate whether that's true, or just some other nearby PFAS source. I've written a Randolph Town Council Resolution to conduct that PFAS water testing, which I plan to also introduce as a Holbrook Select Board Resolution. The proposed Resolution is attached.
MassDEP has no capacity to conduct PFAS soil testing so my Town Council Resolution calls for soil testing to be conducted via private PFAS testing labs. MassDEP has a limited capacity to conduct timely PFAS water tests at varying locations, so my Town Council Resolution calls for conducting those test with a private lab too. The goal would be to trace our Tri-Town Reservoir's PFAS contamination back upstream to its source.
To brief you about the Tri-Town Reservoir: Randolph, Holbrook, and Braintree share a single reservoir, which currently has a Tri-Town water treatment plant under construction. Currently, there are two water treatment plants, one for Braintree and one for Randolph-Holbrook. All three water treatment plants exceeded the state PFAS limit of 20 ppt in recent years, and had to send out PFAS warnings to all water users. Braintree installed GAC filters over a year ago, and Randolph-Holbrook followed this year -- and the new Tri-Town water treatment plant will include GAC filters as well.
The expense of those GAC filters is about a half-million dollars per year to "recharge" the GAC filters as they become saturated with PFAS. The purpose of finding PFAS sources is to remove the PFAS so it doesn't enter our reservoir, rather than filtering it out as it leaves our reservoir. If we can cut half of the source PFAS, we would reduce the GAC filtering cost by a quarter-million dollars per year.
I spoke with Rep. Pressley about this issue at her "Green Justice" event in Randolph today, and she suggested including Rep. Lynch for further action. I note that the voters in the audience expressed support for taking further action on PFAS, as there has been strong support in Randolph for several years. The recent vote in Holbrook indicates voter support for PFAS action in their municipal agencies, too.
I look forward to working with your office to move forward on PFAS testing on the federal Superfund site. Sincerely, Jesse Gordon References: https://jessegordon.com/CleanUpPFAS.htm (including proposed PFAS testing Town Council resolution attached) and Superfund info at https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0100392
Click for Town Council proposed Resolution
Sept. 8, 2023
To Ayanna Pressley's office --
I'd like to bring to your attention three separate issues of environmental injustice in Randolph, about which the Town of Randolph could use federal help. A "letter of support" would be a great start on all three, but further involvement would also be welcomed!
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