DEP explains findings of Lunt audit in Greenfield

  • Buildings that were once the Lunt Silversmiths manufacturing plant off Federal Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Buildings that were once the Lunt Silversmiths manufacturing plant off Federal Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Buildings that were once the Lunt Silversmiths manufacturing plant off Federal Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2022 6:51:52 PM
Modified: 7/6/2022 6:49:14 PM

GREENFIELD — In a meeting with a representative from the state Department of Environmental Protection, residents and city officials continued to express a lack of confidence in the licensed site professional overseeing the environmental cleanup at the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street.

“I have a hard time being convinced that the current LSP is going to be looking after the city’s best interests, because that individual is actually being paid for by the developer,” commented Precinct 3 City Councilor Virginia “Ginny” DeSorgher. “I’m just lacking trust this individual is going to really be looking to delineate the boundaries of this contamination.”

The property — which the Springfield-based 401 Liberty St. LLC subleases to the Behavioral Health Network and Clinical & Support Options — has been the subject of controversy among residents and city officials who are concerned about the status of the environmental cleanup. In particular, there is concern for contamination levels of trichloroethylene (TCE).

In a presentation to neighbors of the Federal Street property, as well as concerned residents, Board of Health members and other city officials, Audit Section Chief John Zeigler of the DEP outlined the findings of the audit conducted earlier this year.

In the audit — which resulted in a notice of noncompliance — MassDEP found that the Phase II Comprehensive Site Assessment — finished in April 2020 — was incomplete and did not adequately assess contaminant sources and the extent of contamination at the 298 Federal St. property. The audit began in mid-April.

“We’re not convinced the stormwater system is indeed capturing all that contaminated groundwater,” Ziegler told attendees at the virtual presentation last week. “As we talk about our findings, we are asking them to collect additional data to support their conceptual site model.”

Ziegler explained that the area the DEP characterizes as part of the “disposal site” in the conceptual model is anywhere that contamination is located. He also said the potential migration pathways need to be reexamined with a closer look at utility lines.

“It was the LSP’s opinion already that the stormwater system along Kenwood Street was capturing the contaminants, so it stands to reason any other utility line may be capturing contamination,” Ziegler explained. “We’ve asked that additional data be collected and evaluated to understand where are all the potential migration pathways.”

Ziegler noted that further data is needed on the contaminant sources and indicated the potential presence of what’s called a dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL), or a heavy oil that “doesn’t stop until something prevents it.”

“What we don’t know is, is that contributing to groundwater contamination beyond where that storm sewer is located?” he said.

The DEP also questioned in its audit whether a “permanent solution” had indeed been achieved.

“You have to eliminate a source or you have to control a source of contamination in order to achieve what’s called a permanent solution — meaning you’re done, you’ve met the no significant risk levels, and the other thing is migration control,” Ziegler said.

“You can’t have a contaminant that continues to migrate. … We said you haven’t shown us the sources have been eliminated, because by your own admissions there’s some groundwater concentration suggestive of DNAPL being present. We also know contaminated groundwater continues to be discharged to the stormwater system based on that most recent catch basin data.”

The LSP may be able to file a temporary solution, he said, in which technologies are implemented to help achieve the standards of a permanent solution.

Ziegler explained that while there is a 60-day time frame to file a scope of work for MassDEP to review and approve (which would end July 26), that deadline failed to consider the requirements of the Public Involvement Plan process, which includes a 20-day comment period. To that end, the LSP’s scope will need to be shared with the petitioners for comment before it is submitted to MassDEP.

“You said this is a complicated process, and that the technology may not be there to do this permanently,” resident Susan Worgaftik said following the presentation. “Let’s say that’s true. Considering the city wants to sell the property … if there is a temporary solution that has to be done and monitored, who is going to be responsible for that, for doing that work, … because, frankly, they haven’t been honest with us so far. Why should I expect them to be now?”

Resident Glen Ayers, a former health agent with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, also shared with Ziegler the local concern for the LSP, noting City Council unanimously supported a resolution that called on the mayor to hire a new licensed site professional.

Ziegler emphasized that while the department had no say in who the LSP is, there will be more oversight.

“If the LSP has presented something to us that is not adequate, we have a say in that,” Ziegler explained. “We can require the city do additional work that the department feels is necessary to meet the requirement.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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