Moore, Donahue Secure State Funding for WRTA Site Decontamination

by | Apr 26, 2016

BOSTON – Following the discovery of additional hazardous waste materials on property recently purchased by the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA), Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and Representative Daniel M. Donahue (D-Worcester) announced that the state would be providing an additional $3 million in funding to assist decontamination efforts.

In 2014, the WRTA purchased eleven acres of land from the energy company Eversource (formerly NSTAR) off of Quinsigamond Avenue in the City of Worcester. The property, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant, has been recognized as having significant deposits of toxic chemicals including cyanide and coal tar sludge.

In 2013, it was estimated that removing the contaminants from the property would cost approximately $15 million. Prior to purchasing the property, the WRTA relied on information disclosed by Eversource relative to the level of on-site contaminants.

With the support of local leaders, the City’s Legislative Delegation and the Patrick Administration, approximately $16 million in state funding was authorized and expended to decontaminate the property. However, the later discovery of unreported underground tanks possessing grossly contaminated petroleum soils, and the presence of asbestos, have led to unforeseen cleanup expenses totaling millions of additional dollars.

After receiving a request for assistance from the WRTA, Sen. Moore and Rep. Donahue submitted a letter last October to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requesting that a proper Notice of Responsibility be issued to Eversource regarding the decontaminated property. DEP subsequently issued a Notice of Responsibility to Eversource and the WRTA has conducted outreach to discuss further steps.

In an effort to prevent against a delay to the Quinsigamond Avenue project, Sen. Moore and Rep. Donahue also arranged a meeting between the WRTA and the Administration to request state funding to mitigate the unanticipated contamination at the site. As of last week, the Administration was in the process of finalizing the release of $3 million to support the decontamination efforts.

“The additional funding will assist with moving this project one step closer toward completion,” said Sen. Moore. “The decontamination of this property not only yields benefits to the WRTA, but also to the environment. The Notice of Responsibility also helps to ensure that taxpayers are not liable for the full cost of this decontamination effort.”

“I’m extremely happy that the administration was able to come through and help to get the project on track,” said Rep. Donahue. “This is a major part of making sure we have good quality public transportation in the City and in the area.”

Construction of the WRTA facility, which is to serve as a maintenance and operations building, is currently underway with an anticipated completion date in July of this year.