Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Toxic Smoke Danger at a Contaminated Site

from George Lewis
Town Meeting Member Precinct 18 Chair

"And once they start, peat fires can burn for years..."
At 350 Irving Street, there are serious concerns about Landscape Depot, Inc. for these reasons:

        1. In the last 4 years, the Framingham Fire Department has responded to 14 incidents of mulch fires at Landscape Depot. It is unknown how many fires occurred that were not reported.

        2. Landscape Depot’s mulch piles are sitting on a 20 acre Superfund site where there are highly flammable coal tar lagoons with a flash point of 200 degrees centigrade (International Chemical Program).

       3. These lagoons are floating on highly combustible peat bogs, one of the oldest known fossil fuels (GZA report - Page 21 July 2, 2012). Peat has an auto ignition temperature of 260 degrees centigrade. (Canadian Sphagnum MSDS).
      4. Peat bog fires can last for decades and some have forced residents to evacuate.

      5. Massachusetts fire regulations require a business that stores 2500 cubic feet of “combustible material” must get a permit after an inspection by the local fire department. Landscape Depot has NO permits at all, not even to conduct their business.

      6. The property at Landscape Depot has no public or private water supply. When fires break out, the Framingham Police Department has had to stop traffic on Irving Street in order for the Fire Department to access the hydrant on the other side of the street. DPW has also been called on to help extinguish the fires by moving the mulch piles.

      7. Landscape Depot is imposing health hazards on its workers, our Public Service employees and the thousands of residents in the densely populated neighbors of Precincts 16 and 17.

     8. A large scale fire at this contaminated site would emit dangerous plumes of smoke and gases. Should the peat bog ignite, the combustible materials would burn beyond control. The huge amounts of water that is applied to the mulch piles becomes contaminated when it permeates into the tainted soil and drains into wetlands. Unregulated activity at Landscape Depot presents an imminent danger to our entire community.

Responses from FramGov members:

"Who has the right to dump toxic material into the air that we all breathe? I sincerely hope that nobody, including nobody with big money has such unalienable God-given right to do so..."

"... Speaking of the futility of using snow to prevent mulch fires, the highly contaminated property in question is surrounded by wetlands which feed into the Beaver Dam Brook and Fiske Pond in Natick. Cyanide pools are currently held back by a large man-made berm which was recently breached and had to be repaired to protect the wetlands..."

"Mulch is organic material. As it naturally breaks down mulch piles heat up. According to the Office of the MA State Fire Marshal "in many mulch fires, the smoldering mulch tunnels under the surface and then breaks out into open flame." Ironically, there is a greater risk of much fires once the piles are covered with snow or ice because snow and ice act as insulation allowing heat to buildup until the pile bursts into flames. Another problem putting fires out at Landscape Depot is that there is no private or public water on the property. (Please refer to item #6 in George Lewis' original post.) During the winter these mulch piles are left unchecked for extended periods of time so a fire could get out-of-hand before an alarm is sounded"

"... I see the act of putting the public at risk and causing harm by exposing the public to these toxins to be nothing less than assault and battery against the public."

"... What I am concerned with is the health hazard that currently exists at 350 Irving Street (Landscape Depot). The question is this: If there is a good likelihood that some people will get harmed one way or another because the coal tar is there and somehow leaking out into the environment, why should the maker/owner of such coal tar be allowed to continue to put the public at risk?... 
     ... I do not wish any kind of disability caused by the coal tar on anyone; especially when it could be prevented just by the owner of the coal tar do the only right thing and that is to properly dispose of it, at least in accordance with the EPA and MA DEP. If the owner should choose otherwise, then Town Officials have the duty to take appropriate action to see that the only activity that is allowed at 350 Irving St is activities pertaining to cleaning up the coal tar..."

NOTE: I encourage people to become involved, ask questions or voice their feelings about this topic. Respond to FramGov postings on this topic at: