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South Boston residents raise concerns about proposed recycling facility

Posted by Patrick Rosso  September 12, 2013 05:15 PM

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(Image courtesy Google Maps)

The location of the proposed facility.

Residents in South Boston raised a number of concerns about a recycling facility proposed for the neighborhood at a Wednesday night meeting of the Andrew Square Civic Association.

The $10-million project, dubbed Celtic Recycling, is being led by entrepreneurs and South Boston residents Susie Chin and George O’Toole. The proposed project would redevelop a property at 100 Widett Circle, currently being used as a cold storage facility, into a state-of-the-art structure for recycling building materials.

Materials would be trucked in, processed, and would then leave via rail or truck.

Currently the facility, which is located in an industrial area, sees about 350 truck trips a day and the project’s proponents said at the most there would be 500 a day if the facility were to open.

At Wednesday’s meeting residents questioned the potentially hazardous materials that could be brought through their community and other negative impacts the facility could have on residents.

Chin, O’Toole, and Ray Quinn, an engineer working on the project, assured residents that no trucks would use the neighborhood’s streets, excluding those hauling from construction sites in the neighborhood. Also all material transported would be in sealed trucks and all work would take place inside of the building. The facility would also not recycle hazardous materials and would concentrate on recycling building materials and home goods such as cans, concrete, and timber.

The biggest concern raised at Wednesday’s meeting was the project’s request to be waived from the mandatory Environmental Impact Report required by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.

“Without an Environmental Impact Report we don’t know what the impact will be on the community,” said Denise Lynch, a member of the neighborhood association.

“The waiver is granted meeting certain criteria where a facility demonstrates it won’t have a significant impact,” said Quinn.

In addition to the proponents’ belief that the facility wouldn’t have an environmental impact, Quinn said the Expanded Environmental Notification Form submitted by the group lays out all the potential impacts.

Along with having all work contained inside the building, the Expanded Environmental Notification Form lists a number of environmental improvements that the project’s proponents plan to make to the building including the addition of a rainwater collection system, a LEED certified facility, CO2 monitoring, and the construction of a solar array to help power operations.

Quinn also said the facility is buffered from the community by a rail yard to the east and I-93 to the west, which would limit its impact on the immediate neighborhood.

Another sticking point for residents was the lack of a community process. A public comment period as part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act was advertised in a number of community periodicals including South Boston Today and Quinn said that Wednesday’s meeting was certainly not the last time the project and those behind it would be before the community.

Representatives from the offices of City Councilor Bill Linehan and Representative Nick Collins said the elected officials were supportive of the project pending an extensive community process.

In addition to the commitment by proponents to appear before the community, further permitting with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will require a lengthy community process, said Quinn.

If approved the project would redevelop the 55,000-square-foot facility to process up to 1,500 tons of construction and demolition debris and single stream recycling a day, with peak operation occurring between 4:30 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the Expanded Environmental Notification Form.

Noise and air pollution would be mitigated because work would take place inside the fully sealed facility, according to the document.

Although the project needs a number of approvals the Expanded Environmental Notification Form listed its estimated completion date as April 2015.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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