Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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October 31, 2013

Berberian storms Selectman's meeting

Bancroft Road resident says town's water supply tainted

(Continued)

Several people gathered in the hallway after the meeting said they were there to get answers and to support Berberian.

“There is arsenic in the water supply and it was dumped near two schools,” said Kevin Doyle, of 311 Lowell St., Andover, referring to the Bancroft School and Phillips Academy. He said he is concerned about the health of three of his children who went to Bancroft School.

“I’m here to support James,” said Jerry Berberian, James’ father, who lives at 59 William St., Andover. “I’m here to support the facts. There’s arsenic in the water.”

His mother, Janet Berberian, said the problem could have been resolved a long time ago but was mishandled by the town.

“Had they done the right thing when it happened, we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

The town manager said he couldn’t comment on the case because it is in federal court.

When told that Berberian is claiming there may be arsenic in the town water supply, however, he said, “if he’s saying that, tell him to prove it. ... All those questions were answered years ago.”

The case goes back to a November 2010 incident when water department employees were cleaning out the 6 million-gallon water storage tank at the Bancroft School.

However, town workers were videotaped by Berberian dumping dark-colored water into leaking trucks and into a nearby storm drain. That drain flowed down Bancroft Road and onto Berberian’s property at the corner of South Main Street.

The brownish water contained dark sediment which ended up settling in a wetland on Berberian’s property. When that sediment was tested, it showed high levels of toxic metals, including arsenic, cadmium and nickel, among others.

The town attempted to clean up Berberian’s property, but he claimed that some of the toxic sediment remains and has even run downstream, onto property owned by Phillips-Andover Academy. He sued the town in federal court over what he said was a violation of the federal Clean Water Act for discharging contaminated water into a wetland. The case remains in federal court.

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