My Turn: ‘An unethical and immoral situation’

Published: 1/24/2022 8:51:05 AM
Modified: 1/24/2022 8:49:51 AM

I am very concerned about the fact that the city has been knowingly exposing the staff and residents of the Recovery Center housed in the old Lunt Silversmiths building to toxins. I am also disgusted by the way the city has been making every effort to cover up their complicity in this unethical and immoral situation. 

There are toxic levels of TCE contaminating the Lunt property, and — as multiple outlets have documented — the city has known about this issue since before they acquired the property and then leased it to the current tenant. As early as 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) informed the city that due to the level of contamination present, it should not buy this property in the first place, at least until a more complete evaluation of the contamination could be done and appropriate mitigation systems implemented. In 2017, the DEP issued an official order to install such systems (specifically, a groundwater treatment system and a sub-slab depressurization system). Complying with these orders would have made the property safe for staff and residents, but it seems that city officials and corporate landlords have been (and remain) uninterested in doing so. 

This issue has raised many alarming questions about city governance that have yet to be answered. For example: these cleanup requirements are explicitly required by the lease-option for the property, and have been since August 2015. The lease has been renewed on a yearly basis, so presumably it has been reviewed by officials many times. Why, then, have these requirements never been met?

Do the residents of the property know of the TCE vapors in the indoor air they have been breathing all this time? Have they given their consent to be exposed to a known carcinogen?

Why has the mayor been dragging her feet on the urgently needed cleanup of this environmental hazard? 

Do the residents who live in nearby properties know about this contamination, and have they consented to be exposed to it?

I ask the mayor to begin a Public Involvement Plan process, as required by law, and I also ask that the Board of Health be put in charge of the Lunt cleanup. The Board of Health plays an important role in safeguarding the residents of Greenfield, and I believe they should take the lead on this issue, since the mayor’s office is apparently unwilling to take meaningful action.   

A final thought: a lot of money has been made off this property by various entrenched entities over the years. One wonders to what extent such profit-making has influenced the city’s inaction on this dangerous threat to the environment and to public health and safety.  

I urge any Greenfield residents who are as appalled as I am by these revelations to sign the petition that can be found here: and to attend the Feb. 16 (at 6:30 p.m.) City Council meeting where hopefully this issue will be opened up for public comment. 

Marianna Ritchey lives in Greenfield.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy