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 attempts to settle the case between the town and Berberian have failed. Just last week, the Board of Selectmen met in executive session to discuss a possible settlement. Berberian said he hasn’t heard back from the town since that meeting.

Monday night, Berberian held up a June 2012 report from Wilcox and Barton, an environmental services firm that did tests on Berberian’s property and in the town’s water tank at Bancroft.

According to the document, the results of those tests show that Berberian’s property is contaminated. “While an imminent hazard was not identified, a significant risk of harm to human health was identified,” the report said.

It went on to say that exposure to the contaminated mud in the wetland “identified a significant risk for ... cancer ... from exposure to arsenic.”

Berberian pointed out that in the same report, Wilcox and Barton say that samples taken from the bottom of the Bancroft water tank and in off-site wetland areas nearby show that the tank was the “probable source of elevated arsenic concentrations in the wetland.”

Shortly after that finding was made, a report was made to the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection that there was a release of hazardous materials into the environment.

Berberian said he just wants his property cleaned up.

“All I’ve ever asked for — I just want the town to clean up my yard, and they should clean up Phillips,” he said. The town has offered him a half-million dollar settlement agreement, which he said is unacceptable because it carries a gag order not to speak with the Department of Environmental Protection about any future cleanup at the site.

When asked about the possibility that arsenic is in the water supply, Stapczynski pointed to an Oct. 24, 2011 letter from engineering firm Camp, Dresser and McKee, which states that while there is sludge in the bottom of most water tanks, it doesn’t pose a threat to human health.

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