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Gilford reiterates desire for 100 percent coal tar removal


July 07, 2010
On behalf of the Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Scott Dunn has sent a letter to the state Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau outlining some last-minute concerns about remedial actions plans at the Liberty Hill site.

The Department of Environmental Services is preparing to make a preliminary decision regarding the coal tar cleanup at Lower Liberty Hill. On July 1, Dunn sent the letter that, among other things, reiterates the fact that the town wants 100 percent removal of all contaminants. The cost of full removal is estimated at $16 million. The remedial action plan proposed by National Grid would remove only 80 percent of the contaminants and would include a slurry wall and filtration pump system. That cost is estimated at $10.9 million.

In the letter, Dunn stressed the importance of the state's Brownsfields Program. He cited RSA 147-F:1, which states that it is in the public interest to "Encourage the redevelopment of industrial, commercial, residential and other properties that have been subject to environmental consideration."

Dunn said that National Grid's plan would render the Liberty Hill land unsuitable for redevelopment "for quite some time" and that it is not consistent with New Hampshire law.

"We would like to go on record with a request that NHDES take affirmative action to render a decision that will allow this land to be redeveloped in an expeditious manner, rather than allow the site to remain in a long-term state of "managed contamination," the letter states.

Dunn also wrote that the town is concerned that the state would be abdicating its responsibility to assist local groundwater protection efforts if the groundwater contamination at Liberty Hill is allowed to remain in place for the next 30 plus years because of extra costs associated with removal.

Lastly, Dunn pointed out that the land and four homes affected by the contaminated site were purchased for the purpose of protecting public health, reducing Gilford's tax base valuation by $465,000.

"This figure multiplied over the course of 30 years represents a significant loss of revenue to the town," he wrote.

Furthermore, Dunn pointed out that that figure doesn't include the potential decrease in market value to neighboring properties.

"A decision by NHDES to order the prompt removal of 100 percent of the coal tar contamination will have the effect of stabilizing the neighborhood home values and enabling this land to be redeveloped for some suitable use, which would then allow for some recovery of our tax base as well," Dunn wrote.

The letter closes by saying that the Gilford selectmen would rather inform the town's residents and prospective future developers of the contaminated site that they fought successfully to remove the contamination entirely, "as opposed to being unable to explain why an unknown amount of hazardous waste was left behind because the State regulators thought it would probably be okay to leave it there."

PeterCavanagh
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