Amanda Alix: Two sides to Shutesbury Library story

Published: 01-06-2023 12:05 PM

I was present at the meeting on which the recent Amherst Bulletin and Gazette article, “Officials may limit access to library site,” is based and find it so full of inaccuracies that it should be retracted. To wit: The subtitle, “Encounter between resident, workers prompts discussion” is untrue. A Shutesbury resident with a background in hydrogeology arrived at the publicly owned parcel known as Lot O-32 to observe testing at the site of the former automotive repair garage. He was met by the M.N. Spear Library Director, who tried to prevent his access. A Shutesbury Police Officer interceded and allowed the resident to enter and observe the proceedings, which he did without further incident. The MA DEP notification letter of Feb. 1, 2022, was regarding the discovery of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on the parcel last year by Licensed Site Professionals O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun, not the former military installation. The letter informed the town that it was the owner of the parcel, and thus responsible for any remediation that might be necessary. The town has always known about the military installation that existed on Lot O-32 for approximately 10 years. In the mid-1990s, an underground storage tank (UST) leak released gasoline into the soil, prompting a cleanup by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of the Department of Defense. Though tons of contaminated soil were removed from the site, the current VOC issue may be connected to the UST leak nearly 30 years ago. Though there was discussion about whether the site “should have been” a work zone and whether the situation “could have been dangerous,” the area was not a posted work site. No dangerous conditions or any specific safety concerns were cited. The information contained in this article skews the reality of the situation. Obtaining both sides of a story and fact-checking information has always been the hallmark of responsible journalism.

Amanda Alix, lead petitioner, Lot O-32 Remediation Oversight Group



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