2008-06-05 / Letters to the Editor

Stakes high for quickly-made decision

Although I was not in attendance at the Town Council meeting on May 12, I'm very concerned about the Council's vote during that meeting to approve the goahead for GZA's development of the final, 100-percent plan for the landfill closure, without an updated assessment of all relevant risks, nor a public workshop to give voice to concerned people about the final design plans.

Specifically, I'm concerned that this "un-announced" vote was ramrodded through based primarily on what appears to be (1) pure expediency, (2) the subjective opinions of a few so-called "experts" on the Town Council who continue to harbor bitterness and contempt for those citizens living near the landfill who have/had a legitimate concern regarding well water con- tamination and opposed the recent plans to site the DPW barn on the landfill.

(3) On highly questionable opinion by a few that the landfill is "most benign," in view of a very problematic history involving contradictory results and statements by DEM and GZA officials over many troubled years, and (4) on a [legitimate] desire to minimize closure costs.......rather than, prior to finalizing the closure plans, ensuring risk reduction via: (1) a rigorous, updated 360 degree assessment of potential landfill leaching of toxic impurities into the underlying SSA, particularly in the down-slope direction, (2) a rigorous, objective assessment of all potential health and economic risks and long-term costs to the surrounding homes, as well as the entire community, in case of failure (including the "cost" of catastrophic failure), (3) meeting all rigorous DEM design standards and criteria for landfill closure, and (4) listening to the legitimate voice of the people.

There is an understandable desire by all to get this landfill closure issue behind us. I'm fully in favor of closing the landfill in the nearterm, and I applaud the suggestion of self-help plans to minimize labor costs. But I'm opposed to cutting corners in the final design and schedule, and to save perceived up-front costs, if it's at the expense of making an uninformed and unwise decision on the final closure design plan without conducting a thorough, updated assessment of all relevant risks and without the opportunity for public vetting.

As I've said before, we should have zero tolerance for cutting corners, for screwing up this decision, and for exposing the community to the potential risk of catastrophic failure, no matter how small, when it comes to preserving the safety of our one and only source of potable water on this island. In this matter, the stakes are much too high to merely rely on the self-serving opinion of a few. John Shannon Jamestown

Return to top