Hooksett NH disk release
March 31, 2011 16:00 update
10AM Newburyport meeting with Hooksett, NH DEP, MA DEP:
Newburyport City HallPanel: Dick Chalpin, Mass DEP; Mike Wimsatt, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services;Jeff Brown, Enpro; Dan Pike, EMD, Hooksett New Hampshire
Dick Chalpin gave a broad overview of the situation noting that 36 towns have been impacted as far away as Racepoint in Provincetown. Additional testing on the disks indicates that there is no additional risk of bacterial contamination from the disks than is contained in any usual trash that comes up in the beach. The Disks are therefore being considered a trash issue and not a health issue.
Mike Wimsatt, NH DES reports that there are still disks washing up on New Hampshire beaches. These disks are being randomly sampled. The vast majority came up negative for bacteria with few coming back with low levels of bacteria. NH DES has formally ordered Hooksett to develop a short term and long term plan to address the disks.
Jeff Brown, Enpro reports that they are amassing an aggressive recovery of the disks, addressing 85 locations on the coast and 55 locations on the Merrimack River. They are also addressing marshes and estuaries. They have been utilizing volunteers that normally do spring clean-up in disk collection. The Clean River Project also deployed booms in the river and collected over 100,000 disks. He reports that his estimates of recovered disks stands at about 2.5 million. The estimate of disks released is about 4 million. Enpro is focusing their attention on the Merrimack River at this time to prevent additional disks from making their way to the ocean. Going forward, Enpro expects to plan a schedule of inspections, will deploy personnel for disk recovery, continue to encourage volunteers to pick up disks and establish clean up stations for the deposit of the disks. There are also sending clean up teams to beaches that have large amounts of disks on them.
Dan Pike, EMD Hooksett NH reported that the cause of the release of the disks was the storm that deposited 2.5 inches of rain combined with the rapid snow melt due to the warm temperature caused the basins to quickly fill and overflow the plant. He also noted that a UMASS group is currently modeling the ocean currents to determine where else the disks may show up. Reimbursement guidance should be ready to be distributed shortly. Clean up costs are being estimated at 1.5-2.0 million. DEP suggests that City and towns use their own resources to pick up the disks and request reimbursement from Hooksett. Mr. Pike noted that, while Hooksett takes responsibility for the cleanup costs of the disks, payment will not be made for communities for their entire spring beach cleanups.
The question was asked about the impact of the disks on sea life. MA DEP reports that it is likely that some sea-life has been impacted, however there is no direct knowledge of detrimental impact.
The question was also asked about the clean-up of granite shoreline. “How clean is clean?” Enpro requested that they be contacted if there is a large concentration of Disks to be picked up but that they will never be able to pick up every scattered disk.
There was a question about increased medical waste coming up on Coffins Beach. Mr. Pike from Hooksett stated that there were box filters in the Hooksett plant that screen out that type of waste, so none of that would have come from Hooksett. MA DEP also noted was that several other community’s had plants discharge during that storm, some with CSO’s which do not have the capacity to screen debris prior to discharge.
The Gloucester DPW crews have cleaned all of the public beaches and report them to be in good shape. This could change depending on wind and tide conditions. The DPW will continue to monitor the beaches and adjust their cleanup efforts accordingly. Gloucester is fortunate in that the City owns its own mechanical beach rake which has proven to be very effective in picking up these disks on the beaches that the rake can access.Citizens are still being asked to pick up the disks they see on the small beaches and dispose of them in the trash.
Currently the City of Gloucester is not cleaning private beaches. Private property owners or their organizations should contact the Town of Hooksett directly. Please contact the Emergency Management Director Dan Pike at 603-315-5216 or at DPike@Hooksett.org Private property owners can also contact ENPRO at 800-966-1102 and reference The Hooksett Event issue. The Town of Hooksett is still trying to get an 800 information line in operation but it is not up as of today.
Unless things change, this will be the last formal update. Persons with any questions or to report significant quantities of disks should contact ENPRO directly at the 800-966-1102 number.