Health board ‘satisfied’ with status of remediation efforts at Lunt property in Greenfield

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

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

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

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

Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2022 4:52:17 PM
Modified: 1/27/2022 4:50:59 PM

GREENFIELD — The Board of Health indicated at its meeting Wednesday that it is satisfied with the environmental cleanup status of the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street.

“We have to get it to be as good as we can but it’s never going to be perfect, which is unfortunate, but it’s the truth. We do the best we can,” said Board of Health Chair Nancee Bershof. “I’m satisfied the best has been done that can be done, and it sounds like my board members are as well.”

The conversation between board members and the Health Department, however, was met with concern from members of the public who had the opportunity to speak at the end of the meeting.

The property at 298 Federal St., which has been leased by the city to 401 Liberty St. LLC since 2015, has an agreement that gives the tenant — 401 LLC — the option to buy.

The Springfield-based LLC, which has expressed an interest in purchasing the property, subleases it to the Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and Clinical & Support Options (CSO). The city has maintained it has a legal obligation to honor the contract and execute the sale.

Motions to declare the property on Federal Street as surplus and authorize the mayor’s sale of the property, however, were tabled during an October City Council meeting after Precinct 3 Councilor Virginia “Ginny” DeSorgher urged councilors to vote “no” until remediation issues are addressed. The matter was eventually sent to the Economic Development Committee for further review.

In December, a petition was presented to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner seeking to bring a process for designating the former Lunt Silversmiths property as a Public Involvement Plan (PIP) site. A remote public hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. in response to the request of 32 petitioners.

On Wednesday evening, Health Director Jennifer Hoffman said the former Lunt Silversmiths property was brought to the attention of the Health Department under her leadership in July, though she noted discussions on the property date back to 2005.

The Health Department’s role has primarily been information collecting.

“What I do know is the DEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) was involved and OTO (O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates) — the remediation company — basically did what the DEP suggested and recommended, but currently there is a petition investigating the Lunt property because it’s up for sale,” Hoffman said. “There is a question about TCE contaminants in the area that could be affecting neighbors in the community.”

TCE, or trichloroethylene, is a synthetic chemical.

Hoffman noted that when OTO submits its remediation plans, the DEP has to review and audit them.

“I think if there’s anything that needs to be done, I think the DEP will let (OTO) know,” she said.

Bershof said on Wednesday she had reviewed all the available documents from the state and local agencies and departments, as well as the reports from OTO. According to the state DEP database, the last document filed by OTO was a request on Dec. 2 for a six-month extension on submitting the Phase III and Phase IV reports.

She noted that the measurements collected between 2012 and 2018 to monitor the efficacy of mitigation systems put in place — including a passive ventilation system — were above what is allowed of residential range, but “almost fell within the residential range.” The property is designated as a commercial/industrial property, which has higher acceptable thresholds for TCE measurements.

At a recent meeting with members of City Council, Wedegartner noted that the authorization use limitation report had been completed with the intention to file with the DEP. This report would limit the use of the property to commercial purposes.

“I think that the question is whether it’s a legitimate use of this property now, and also whether there’s any evidence of contamination in the surrounding homes,” Bershof said.

Per the DEP, a residential property is defined as one occupied by someone 24 hours per day, seven days per week for 30 or more years.

“A residential treatment center is not considered a residence,” Bershof said. “It’s a different category of building. It’s considered in the same category as a hotel or hospital. Those levels that were detected here would be allowed in a hotel or hospital.”

But members of the public who spoke after the discussion were disappointed with the opinions expressed by board members.

“I’m horrified how casually you just dismissed legitimate concerns regarding the Lunt cleanup, and that you think any exposure to TCE is not worthy of concern,” said Precinct 4 City Councilor John Bottomley.

He added that while OTO had recommended the installation of a particular system for mitigation — a Sub-Slab Depressurization System — it was never installed.

“I think it’s reasonable to say a residential treatment center where people could live day and night for three months is closer to a residence than a factory where people come to work for a few hours,” he continued. “TCE is not something we should be saying, ‘Oh, it’s just a little over the residential level.’ That’s not acceptable.”

Resident Carissa Clifford, a nurse, said she was “highly disappointed” local public health officials were not advocating for the people who live or work in the neighborhood of the property.

“Your lack of concern feels coldhearted to me,” she said. “I know you’re good people; I know you mean well. I’m asking you to please reconsider and do right by these people.”

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


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