WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, Suzanne Sullivan — who serves as Vice President of the Wilmington Environmental Restoration Committee — had a challenge for Selectmen Chair Greg Bendel.
“During the election, you talked about how you think it’s terrible that people can’t drink their water on Cook Avenue because their water has been contamined by the Olin site,” said Sullivan. “I will ask you to make a motion, or – as Chairman – to put an item on the agenda – to bring public water to those people that have contaminated water, which should have been done 10, 12, 15 years ago.”
“[Cook Avenue] residents pay taxes too,” continued Sullivan. “Everyone can be upset about unaccepted ways, and they should be. But how about if you didn’t have water to drink and have to have your water trucked in from Olin? I think that’s a priority over a hockey rink. I think that’s a priority over unaccepted ways. The town has money to run water up there and then you can sue Olin for the costs.”
Bendel did not immediately respond to Sullivan’s request.
Later in the meeting, Selectman Mike McCoy asked Bendel to place Sullivan’s request on the board’s next meeting agenda. The request does not appear on the Selectmen’s May 28 meeting.
Sullivan also thanked McCoy for recently alerting his colleagues to an interim action feasibility study draft submitted to the EPA by Olin which, under one alternative, calls for some of the town’s deactivated wells to be turned back on and its contaminated water be sent to the town’s water treatment plant. Sullivan reached out to McCoy as a concerned citizen after not seeing any discussion of the draft on the Selectmen’s meeting agenda.
“If the town didn’t comment on [the study draft], it would have almost seen as those the town didn’t have a problem with it. Once, later on, I think the town would have said ‘no way, that’s not going to happen. We’re not in favor of that,'” said Sullivan. “Mr. McCoy was the messenger. One of the things this town has a history of doing is shooting the messenger. I would have [spoken up at the meeting] myself, but I couldn’t be there. I give [Mr. McCoy] a lot of credit. Now, at least the town knows about it. There should have been a discussion with the board in the beginning, but at least everyone knows about it now, and I’m glad about that.”
“The town has waited for 15 years for any remediation report for Olin. This is the first one. To hear at the Selectmen’s Meeting that nobody knew what they were proposing in reactivating 2 of the 5 wells that were shut down, was a huge concern,” said Sullivan. “I’m sorry Jeff, I know you’ve done due diligence on this site for a long time, but that was a concern. This is the only remediation report we’ve gotten for Olin in 15 years.”
Sullivan stressed that the Wilmington Environmental Restoration Committee wants to work with the town.
“WERC wants to work in tandem [with the town]. We were for years. Now we’re not, in part, because of the redevelopment plans that have come forward before we actually have a solid remediation plan, which is something we were always on the same page until ex-employees of the town got interested in making some money on the Olin site,” added Sullivan. “That’s a concern for us. All we want is remeditation plan, a long-term plan, that will protect the town. That’s all we want. It’s not much to ask for.”
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