Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 21, 2013

Town hits back on tainted sludge, water charges

New report asserts 'no significant risk to human health'


Acting Public Works Director Chris Cronin said during an interview last week at the water plant that while he “can’t stop what people are saying, if he (Berberian) is saying that the water in the distribution system is unsafe, I’m saying it’s untrue.”

Morris Gray, the superintendent in charge of the water distribution system, said that while material does settle at the bottom of the town’s water storage tanks, it doesn’t get into the water supply.

“The outlet for the tank is higher than the floor,” he said. “The muck precipitates out and settles at the bottom. We tested for arsenic recently. None has been detected every time.”

When the Bancroft tank was cleaned in November 2010, which is what led to Berberian’s lawsuit, it was the first time it had been cleaned since it was built in 1974.

Gray said that since Berberian sued, the town has stopped cleaning out the water supply tanks.

“It was a conscious decision to stop until this gets ironed out,” he said. In addition to Bancroft, the town has water holding tanks at several other locations throughout town, including Prospect Hill, Wood Hill and at the water treatment plant itself.

Alan Carifio, the town’s chief chemist and water lab director, said tests are done at the plant every day and frequently in the distribution system.

“We have quarterly, monthly and daily testing, and testing every 15 minutes,” he said. “We are so heavily regulated it’s ridiculous.”

Urbelis said the water in the Bancroft tank was not tested while it was being cleaned.

“There was no need to take out samples when they were cleaning it,” he said. “They didn’t see any need to. They were cleaning out the goop on the bottom. They had never cleaned it out. They knew it should be cleaned. They didn’t know what was contained in it until a year later when Berberian did some tests and his (engineer) notified DEP.”

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