New Bedford Mayor Asks State to Reject Parallel Products Waste Facility
NEW BEDFORD -- The office of Mayor Jon F. Mitchell has informed Massachusetts officials of the city's objections to Parallel Products and the company's plan to build a solid waste, materials recycling, and sewage sludge processing plant at the New Bedford Business Park.
The city "strongly objects" to the expanded project because of its noise, odor, traffic, wetland and soil impacts, a lawyer for the city wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to Kathleen Theoharides, Gov. Charlie Baker's secretary of energy and environmental affairs.
The Boston-based KP Law firm also wrote that the project's Draft Environment Impact Report, or DEIR, is flawed. Attorney Mark R. Reich asked Theoharides to deny issuing a certificate to Parallel Products for its project, which would be located at the old Polaroid site in the city's far north end near the Acushnet and Freetown borders.
"The city believes that the applicant has not adequately addressed the health, safety, and environmental impacts of this project, a project that is not in the best interest of the City of New Bedford," the letter reads.
Phase I of the project, which would add a glass recycling facility, rail spur, and solar panels to power the operation, is already underway. But it is the second phase of the Parallel Products operation that has generated intense controversy.
Phase II would create a facility to accept municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris -- known as "C&D waste" in the industry -- and to process pre-treated human waste from around the region into "biosolids" that can be used as fertilizer.
According to public documents, materials would generally arrive at the facility on trucks and be shipped out by rail. At full capacity, the plant would produce 1,300 tons per day of residual waste, up to 250 tons of recycled glass, and up to 50 tons a day of dried biosolids. The 71-acre site already contains 92,200 square feet of building space. The new project would add 150,175 of new building space, a canopy area of 75,525 square feet, and a 27,500 square-foot glass recycling building already under construction.
"The proposed facility would have a detrimental impact on existing users of the park, which is an important economic resource for the city," attorney Reich wrote to Theoharides on behalf of New Bedford. "Further, the traffic, noise, and odors would have a decidedly negative impact on the residents in the area who will have to live with this operation on a daily basis."
According to the Reich's letter:
- There is a "significant potential" for PFAS and other toxic chemicals to enter groundwater, and potentially drinking water sources, from the site, as the project is located on a potentially productive aquifer.
- The discharge to the city of wastewater from the biosolids digester is "of grave concern, due to the risk of PFAS from other communities' biosolids" discharged into New Bedford's municipal wastewater treatment plant.
- The project would add 300 new truck trips and 150 new employee trips per day to an already stressed traffic environment with a high crash rate.
- The Draft Environmental Impact Report is "premature" because the state has not yet issued its required site suitability report, and the city's Board of Health has not yet had a chance to conduct its review of the project.
Reich said the DEIR contains discrepancies and fails to properly address environmental justice concerns. He said the citizen's group SouthCoast Neighbors United should be kept informed of all developments.
"This project would pose risks to the health of nearby residents and undermine the quality of life in the neighborhood," said Mitchell in a statement. "the case has now been made to the state regulatory agencies reviewing this proposal that this residential neighborhood is no place for a project like this."
WBSM has reached out to Parallel Products for comment.
Mary Serreze can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.