Old Dartmouth dump's fate worries some in Westport


Plans to deal with an old Dartmouth dump have prompted an outcry in that town and ought to concern Westport residents as well.

So says Betsy White, advocacy director for the Westport River Watershed Alliance.

"It's located in Dartmouth but right in the Westport River watershed close to our town line," she said. "It endangers wells nearby and the Westport River with some very bad contaminants."

'It' is the inactive Cecil Smith Landfill at 452 Old Fall River Road, Dartmouth, just north and east of the Westport town line.

"It is right in the headwaters of the Westport River," she said, touching Cold Brook Swamp. From there, water flows toward the Shingle Island waterway into Lake Noquochoke which feds directly into the Westport River's East Branch.

The place has a shady history, Ms. White said, and "holds some really bad stuff." A former owner is alleged to have accepted contaminated dredge spoils, including barrels of unspecified materials, for dumping there. Tests have revealed the presence of PCBs, arsenic, cyanide, lead, mercury and more.

Concerns are several-fold, says the SouthCoast Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow.

Contaminated water leaching out of the dump is a threat to a number of wells in both Dartmouth and Westport. Among those within a four-mile radius of the dump are community wells in Westport including those at Westport Country Day School, St. George School, Macomber School, and Westport Plaza, Well No.1.

And toxins that make it out of the dump and into the Westport River could contaminate bottom sediment as well as creatures that inhabit the river, and perhaps people who eat fish and shellfish taken there.

A plan to close and cap the landfill has prompted opposition from people concerned in part about the quality of fill that would be used.

Some of them turned out for a Mass DEP hearing recently to argue against Brockton-based Boston Environmental's proposal to bring in 66,000 truckloads of fill. Some of that fill, opponents say, is dredge spoils that itself contains low-level of contaminant. But Boston Environmental has responded that any fill will be tested and will meet state standards.

"That is a legitimate concern," Ms. White said. But she, and others at there SouthCoast Alliance, argue that capping itself contradicts an earlier state commitment to not merely cap but to clean up the dump.

"This is a private, unlined dump and capping won't solve he problem. What really needs to happen is for those toxins to be removed entirely, not covered over," she said. If they aren't removed, "they will remain a very real threat to the Westport River and to the wells nearby."

More hearings are scheduled in the near future.

Tonight,  Thursday, June 27, a meeting is set at the Dartmouth High School Auditorium —  5:30 to 6:30 p.m., poster display/informal discussion; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., presentations; 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. question and answer discussion. On Thursday, July 11, at Dartmouth High School Auditorium, the schedule is: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., poster display/informal discussion; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., presentations; 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., question and answer discussion.

For more on the SouthCoast Alliance stance on the Cecil Smith Landfill, visit http://www.nopollutionsolution.org



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