Underground storage tank issue in Urban Renewal project resolved

WESTFIELD—According to City Advancement Officer Joe Mitchell, the site where an underground storage tank was discovered and contamination occurred in the Elm Street Urban Renewal area has “a permanent solution with no conditions,” meaning development can continue in the area.

Previously, it was found that the site of a potential multi-use building where the former Romani’s Bowling Alley stood had an underground storage tank with petroleum product in it that had previously failed, thus causing a potential contamination at the site.

Elm Street Urban Renewal (WNG file photo)

Testing was done on the site on both water and soil, and a consultant group, O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun (OTO), was brought in to find a solution to the issue that followed Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) criteria.

According to Mitchell, OTO and the city “came up with a ‘permanent solution with no conditions’ report, which the [MassDEP] accepted, as of Jan. 30.”

What this means, Mitchell said, is that the issue will be resolved and that there will be no restrictions to the land, meaning that any number of developments could occur there. No changes to the developments were noted, however.

Mitchell said that the solution for the contamination will be what was termed “natural attenuation.” According to Mitchell, the petroleum product will “naturally go away on its own” based on the soil and contamination of the hydrocarbons within the petroleum product.

“It breaks down. Microbes eat it, bacteria; then it vaporizes into atmosphere,” He said. “You can put effort into it to make it go faster but it’s not worth it due to the contamination being so small.”

Mitchell said that OTO had a licensed site professional on there staff with special certification from MassDEP “to handle petroleum cleanup,” and they were the person who created the plan.

The Westfield Redevelopment Authority is now looking to create a request for proposal for the area. To assist with this, they are still awaiting determination on a request for a technical assistance grant from MassDevelopment.

The city applied for the grant in November of last year, which was before the due date of Dec. 15. The city was one of the first to apply according to Mitchell, but over 50 communities have applied overall.

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