Hoosac to pay $140,000 fine for EPA
By Glenn Drohan
Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, July 09, 2003 -
NORTH ADAMS -- Mayor John Barrett III announced he has signed a "consent decree"
that calls for a $140,000 fine for the district's continued violations of the Clean Water
Barrett said he reluctantly signed the decree last week after fierce negotiations with
federal and state officials over three years.
The decree, which is essentially an out-of-court settlement, mandates that Williamstown
and North Adams each pay $70,000 over three years to the EPA for violations at the
district's waste-water treatment plant off Simonds Road, which the two communities share.
It also calls for a strict schedule of plant improvements over the next three to five
years, which engineers have estimated could cost up to $12 million, but which Barrett said
should be more like $4 million to $6 million. The improvements will be necessary to reduce
the plant's discharge of waste water into the Hoosic River.
Also as part of the decree, the district will be required to make immediate plant
improvements, such as replacing defective equipment, and to repair part of its
"interceptor line," the main line that connects to the plant after collecting
waste from city and town lines. That work has already begun, at a cost of $1,020,000, for
which the district received an SRF loan.
Push for privatization
The long-term requirements of the decree will force the district to perform engineering
work to determine what improvements are needed to bring the plant into compliance with its
waste-water discharge permit and then make those improvements, with the two communities
sharing the cost.
Tighe & Bond Engineering, the district's consultant, has estimated the cost at between
$10 million and $12 million, which Barrett said was "highly inflated." Plant
Manager Ridelto "Rusty" Nodal said he does not believe the price will be that
high, but he questioned where Barrett got his figures of $4 million to $6 million.
Barrett said he based his estimate on information from the city's consultants as well as
comments by officials of one of the private companies interested in taking over plant
The mayor continued to push for privatization of the plant, which he said will reduce
operating costs and make a private company assume all the risks the two communities have
been taking, including the potential for future fines. He repeated his familiar charge
that the district has been badly managed since the plant opened in 1976.
He also blasted Nodal for failing to make public recent proposals submitted by two firms,
USFilter of Norwell, and Aquarian Services Co. of Londonderry, N.H., for the plant's
privatization. But Nodal said he was acting on the advice of the district counsel, Philip
Grandchamp, in keeping the specifics of the proposals private, pending review by a
Town Manager Fohlin said he, too, would like to know more about the proposals, but he
defended Nodal, who began work a little over six months ago.