Metrowest Daily News, February 19, 2015
Southside residents complained to the Board of Health this week about mulch fires spontaneously igniting on contaminated land at 350 Irving St.
Town Meeting members Judy Grove, George Lewis and others said they worry about the risk to firefighters and the public because of toxins in the ground.
Grove said large piles of mulch stored on the site are routinely catching fire, even in the winter, and it’s just part a bigger problem.
“Our concern is that nobody should be on that land… We believe that it’s a polluted area that needs to be closed down,” she told the board Tuesday.
Grove and the other residents voiced their concern a week before the Zoning Board of Appeals is set to review special permit requests from Landscape Depot and the dozen other landscaping, construction and automotive businesses that are tenants at the site.
The Zoning Board takes the permit requests up next Tuesday night at 7.
Board of Health Chairman Mike Hugo said the department would be issuing comments to the Zoning Board, and does support permits being issued until the integrity of a protective barrier of asphalt on top of the contamination is verified.
Carol Bois, the town’s environmental health officer, said it’s difficult to ascertain whether the cap is intact to prevent direct contact between the toxins and people.
“They’re going to have to demonstrate that somehow,” she said.
As far as the mulch fires go, firefighters wear “full gear – respirator and everything” when they’re called to put out fires at the site, Bois said.
The Framingham location of Landscape Depot was closed Wednesday, as staff was in training, according to a recorded voice mail greeting. The company’s main location in Milford is closed for the season.
The concerns about the contamination and mulch fires come as lawsuits play out over Landscape Depot’s activities on the property.
Howard Garshman, a former yardman for the landscape company, filed a civil lawsuit last September against Northeast Utilities, the parent company of NStar, now known as Eversource, which owns the property.
Garshman alleges his exposure to the contamination at the property caused and worsened his kidney cancer. He he claims the company allows coal tar and other toxins in the ground to seep into materials Landscape Depot grinds up and sells as, among other products, “Kids Safe Mulch.”
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