EPA To Allow Commercial Use On Olin Site; New England Transrail Back With Controversial Plans

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Town Manager Jeff Hull and the Board of Selectmen are deeply concerned over the latest developments in New England Transrail’s ongoing attempts to purchase the contaminated Olin Chemical Superfund site, located at 51 Eames Street.  (Read this Town Crier article from December for some of the back story.)

After meeting with representatives from New England Transrail last Wednesday, Hull drafted a memo to the Board of Selectmen, notifying them that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears to now believe that the contaminated Olin Chemical site is safe for commercial use.  New England Transrail intends to re-file with the Federal Surface Transportation Board (FSTB) to obtain authorization for their new plans.

“New England Transrail plans to purchase the entire property from Olin and construct a rail-to-truck transloading operation using approximately 32 acres of the 50+ acre site,” Hull told Selectmen at Monday night’s meeting.  “The rail line on the westerly side of the property is proposed for off loading of commodities in boxcars to tractor trailer trucks.  The rail line to the east of the site is proposed for off loading of non-liquid commodities for tanker carts.”  Hull notes that solid waste (a previous possibility) and oil/petroleum are, according to the company, “off the table,” but cautions that the company remains too vague as to what would be allowed to be transferred on the site.

“There are a number of issues of concern including the transloading of an unspecified range of materials on a Superfund site, the hours of operation and associated noise, the impact of [an estimated 180 daily] truck trips six days per week on existing traffic in that area, and the ability of tractor trailer trucks to safely negotiate the hairpin turn from Eames Street to Woburn Street to access Presidential Way and Interstate 93,” summarized Hull.

“It’s hard to swallow what I’m hearing,” responded Selectman Michael McCoy. “Commercial use allowed on that site!?!  We want less contamination, not more contamination, on that site.”

“The entire town has been unanimous in its thinking [regarding New England Transrail’s past attempts],” said Selectman Mike Newhouse.  “This facility is not good for this town.  I assume [residents] all still share this opinion and we will do all that we can [to stop it.]

Town Manager Jeff Hull told the Board that Town Hall is exploring its options on how best to oppose the project, agreeing that the town’s federal delegation — Congressman Seth Moulton and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey — will need to get involved on behalf of Wilmington.

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