On the day the Attleboro City Council passed a resolution favoring the use of rail over trucks for shipping hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated waste through Norton and Taunton into Attleboro for a landfill capping project, a lawyer for the company heading the project submitted a letter to a city councilor calling the so-called rail option "not feasible."
Richard Nylen, attorney for soil/sediment management company EndCap Technology, wrote in a letter on Tuesday addressed to City Councilor Jonathan Weydt that rail delivery would be too expensive and would take too much time—at least 15 more years than the planned three to four years it would take to ship the material with trucks.
EndCap has agreed to pay for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection-ordered capping of the Attleboro Landfill on Peckham Street, a project the site's owner says he cannot afford to finish. To make it financially worthwhile for EndCap to do this, the company plans to deliver an estimated 650,000 cubic yards of what has been called "slightly contaminated material" to the landfill. This material would be delivered via 35 trucks per day from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. The material would be used for shaping the landfill prior to capping and would come from clients that pay EndCap for the disposal.
Nylen wrote that delivering via rail would dramatically raise the cost for EndCap's clients.
"The cost for an owner to bring soils by rail to Attleboro with the tipping fee is at least two and one-half times the cost of trucking or approximately $55-$60/ton," wrote Nylen, who substituted the term "soils" for what has been called "slightly contaminated material" in other project documentation. "This is based on EndCap's discussions with soil brokers and the rail owner that controls the short line that would take the material into Attleboro."
The attorney wrote that the cost would go up further due to other features of shipping the material via rail. He concluded, "the soil owners will not pay the higher price to ship it by rail and no soils will be delivered for closure to Attleboro."
Mayor Kevin Dumas signed a deal with EndCap in 2009 that would allow the company to use Attleboro roads for trucks to exit the landfill after delivering the contaminated material in exchange for a 25-cent-per-ton "tipping fee" to the city. EndCap has an expanded plan on the table that would take the trucks through Norton (which has been offered 25 cents per ton) and Taunton (which has requested $1 per ton, but offered nothing) to make the deliveries, but only the Attleboro portion of the plan features a signed agreement.
Dumas wrote a letter to EndCap last month stating the agreement was no longer valid. Nylen responded that he disagreed, but his client was willing to talk with the city about modifying the deal. In a letter sent on Monday to the mayor, Nylen wrote that rescinding the agreement is a possibility.
"As a gesture of good faith, I have been authorized by EndCap to notify the Mayor's Office and the City Council that it is willing to rescind the 2009 written agreement and its terms and to meet with your respective offices to discuss the limited range of alternatives that are available and to open discussions as to the options for closing the landfill and preventing additional contamination of groundwater."
The council on Tuesday voted 11-0 for a resolution that "urges" EndCap and the state DEP "to develop an alternative plan" for the landfill capping. The resolution states the council "may support an alternative to that proposal which would utilize the adjacent CSX Railroad spur line." When the resolution was being crafted last week, some councilors had proposed it state opposition to the mayor's agreement, but others opposed doing this.
"I think we are hurting ourselves if we get into this little catfight … over what was or wasn't done," Council President Frank Cook said last week.
There is no mention of the mayor or his agreement in the final version of the resolution.
The landfill capping will be the topic of a meeting tonight at Bristol Community College, 11 Field St., hosted by Councilor Weydt, who has been one of the top critics of the mayor's agreement. The session will begin at 6:30 p.m.
There was some tension Tuesday night as Weydt's colleagues on the council asked about the session. Councilor Jay DiLisio asked if the meeting would be about solutions or if it would be "more of the blame game." Others asked if there would be experts there, to which Weydt replied that there would not be.
Comments on the capping project proposal are being collected through Sept. 28. They can be submitted to Kurt Schulte of EndCap at email@example.com and to Mark Dakers of the Massachusetts DEP at Mark.Dakers@state.ma.us.