Westport objects to state's dump cap plan in Dartmouth

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Westport Selectmen have added their voices to opposition against a state plan to cap an old Dartmouth dump with cover soil that has been described as "slightly contaminated" by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The Selectmen voted unanimously to send a letter of protest about the proposal after listening to presentations by Betsy White of the Westport River Watershed Alliance and Gloria Bancroft of SouthCoast Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow.

The matter is of concern to Westport, both said, because the dump, located not far north and east of Westport, shares the same watershed as parts of town and a number of wells including those used by some Westport schools. That water and its contaminants eventually wind up in tributaries to the Westport River.

Ms. Bancroft said the state-approved plan appears to call for much more of the tainted cover soil than the job needs. "It is clear to us that there's a great deal of pressure to get rid of this soil," she said, some of which is believed to include area dredge spoils.

Brockton-based Boston Environmental's proposes to bring in 66,000 truckloads of fill. The firm has said that any fill will be tested and will meet state standards.

A better option than capping the dump would be to clean it up, as the DEP originally proposed doing, said Ms. Smith and Ms. Bancroft.

The dump in question, the Cecil Smith Landfill at 452 Old Fall River Road, Dartmouth, has a shady history, Ms. White has 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.

"This is a private, unlined dump and capping won't solve the 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."

The dump plan is also opposed by the town of Dartmouth, the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the mayor of New Bedford, among others.

 

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.