Letter: DEP failure

The handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene by the DEP has been almost as shocking and dismaying as the destruction wrought by that storm. As abutters to the Chickley River, we witnessed firsthand how a quiet river can turn into a raging torrent, sweeping away trees, gardens, riverbanks and even the town plow. It is a sight we never wish to see again. What we did not witness was any response by government agencies whose responsibility it is to bring to bear their expertise in guiding the recovery in an expeditious manner. When emergency permission for limited work was granted by the DEP, ET&L was there to begin removing debris and shoring up the banks. ET& L continued its work under the emergency provision until November when complaints were filed with the DEP. Only then, almost 3 months after the storm, did the DEP revoke the emergency work order and issue a cease-and-desist provision. Where was the DEP in the intervening three months?

Now with the clarity of hindsight, the DEP is holding the town of Hawley and the construction company responsible for perceived damage to the river ecosystem. In reality, the DEP bears significant culpability for any inappropriate actions taken in the river by their inactivity. The punitive action taken by the DEP against the town of Hawley and ET & L is difficult to comprehend and bears an outside review.



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