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Board of Health Annual Report, 1998

Landfill - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had set December, 1998, as the date for final use of the Town landfill on Greenville Road, and forced the Town to sign a Consent Decree agreeing to this schedule. The estimated cost to close the landfill is approximately $800,000. As discussed in last year's annual report and presented at 1997's Town Meeting, the Board, in consultation with the Selectman, felt that the only viable option was to sell the "air space" in the landfill to fund the closure. The Board selected Arthur Schofield Inc. (ASI) as the contractor for the "Landfill Capacity Utilization" contract to fill the landfill to closure grades for the Town. ASI also won the public bid to operate the landfill.

Based on satisfactory operations and progress towards closure (completion of milestones required in the Consent decree), the Board obtained an extension from the DEP of the December 1998 closure date until June 30, 1999. ASI has made all required payments to the Town under our contract, and the closure is now fully funded in an escrow account set up specifically for this purpose. The Town Engineer, Paul Bergquist, is presently completing the design for the capping of the landfill. The contract to install the cap should be completed this spring, with the work done this summer and fall.

Waste Disposal - What Next? The Town has enjoyed free disposal of municipal waste for years. All costs have been associated with operations - e.g., staffing, monitoring and curbside pickup. With the closure of the landfill, that situation will change, and we will also have to pay for disposal. The Board is presently evaluating construction of a transfer station at the landfill site to manage the Town's waste into the future. Residents should be prepared for increased costs for waste disposal.

Septic Systems - Real estate activity in Ashby continues to be brisk, resulting in requirements for the Board to review numerous new septic systems and upgrades of existing systems to comply with the new Title V septic regulations. 68 septic system lot tests were witnessed, and 38 permit applications for new septic systems and 25 septic system upgrades were processed. The Board recognizes the burden Title V upgrades place on homeowners. In many instances, upgrade applicants have demonstrated to the Board's satisfaction that it has not been reasonably feasible to upgrade existing systems to Title V compliance, and one or more variances have been granted. We rely on the expertise of our Health Agent, Jim Gareffi of the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health (Nashoba), for technical assistance in reviewing, inspecting, and approving septic plans. Jim is available Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 a.m. in Town Hall for questions on the septic program. The revolving loan program for septic improvements once again has some funds due to the sale of properties originally involved in the program. Residents who are interested in the program should contact the Board or John Hume of Montachusett Regional Planning to determine their eligibility.

Miscellaneous - The Board, through its agent Nashoba, has performed sanitary inspections of commercial food facilities throughout the Town. The Board has also been involved in miscellaneous activities regarding water supply, animal control, etc., some of which have resulted in enforcement actions. Our thanks to Allen Phillips for his long and dedicated service as Animal Control officer. A Board representative also serves on the Earth Removal Board, which has met several times to address concerns with operations at pits on South Road and on Greenville Road.

Mr. Mike's Ground Water Contamination - It has been approximately 5 years since the Board and concerned citizens successfully petitioned the DEP to make the Mr. Mikes site a "Tier 1A" (highest regulatory priority) contamination site, and to make the site a 'Public Involvement Plan Site" under 310 CMR 40.0000. While the Board has been disappointed with the pace of progress made towards cleaning up the groundwater contamination which has contaminated several potable water supplies, progress has at least occurred. Peterborough Oil has recently completed their "Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan," which presents the details of their proposed cleanup activity. The Plan was approved by the DEP with modifications suggested by the Board. The Board has consistently maintained that a pump-and-treat system to control the spread of contamination is needed, and we are pleased that the final plan includes this component. Construction for the cleanup system is expected to begin this spring.

Burbank Hospital - Board chairperson Mary Krapf has been actively involved, along with many other members of the community, in the efforts to restore Burbank Hospital to a fully constructive use. It now appears that the hospital will be converted to a state-of-the-art cancer care facility which will include a full-service emergency room. Sincere thanks to all who have worked on this important public health issue for the last several years.

Thank You - Finally, Board members Cedwyn Morgan and Chris Allen wish to highlight the exceptional efforts of Chairperson Mary Krapf, who devotes many more hours to this position than anyone could reasonably expect, always with the best interests of the Town in mind. The Town is fortunate to have a public servant of her caliber.

Respectfully submitted,

Cedwyn Morgan, Member