September 11, 2020
PFAS and Nantucket
In July, Nantucket Tipping Point sponsored a PFAS (pre-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) webinar hosted by John Coon, JD, PhD that explained what PFAS is, the cause of PFAS contamination, and the potential hazards - especially given Nantucket's sole-source aquifer. Dr. Coon addressed the complexity of this issue including the health, legal, environmental, and ethical concerns. He also held a question and answer session after his presentation.
You may recall that Dr. Coon spoke at a Surfside Crossing Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing in 2018. He focused on Nantucket’s carrying capacity, highlighting the danger of PFAS contamination and our sole-source aquifer and urged us to be aware of potential sources on the island.
The webinar was made available to the public by NCTV18 and was accessible live, on Zoom, and the NCTV18 YouTube channel. It is also available here.
This webinar was very timely given that PFAS levels at Nantucket Airport monitoring wells, along with the wells of private homes near the airport, have been tested and came back with higher than allowable detection amounts. To date, 14 out of 48 wells have tested at unsafe levels of PFAS. Many members of the public have been encouraging the Wannacomet Water Company to test the Public Water Supply since it has not been tested since 2013. The state allowable levels for PFAS were updated in late 2019. Wannacomet Water Company began testing the public water supply last week and results will be back roughly 10 business days later. Nantucket Tipping Point will post the results here when they become available.
Surfside Crossing Update
The project is currently at the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) in Boston with hearings starting very soon with a pre-hearing conference on September 16, 2020. Both the Town of Nantucket and the Nantucket Land Council submitted motions to replace the newly appointed Presiding Officer of the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), Werner Lohe, citing conflict of interest concerns. Both motions were denied.
Mr. Lohe also denied motions by Nantucket Tipping Point and the Nantucket Land Council to intervene as interested parties, thereby denying them an official seat at the table. This means that Nantucket Town Counsel will be the only party in attendance to defend against Surfside Crossing's appeal of the Zoning Board of Appeal's 60-unit permit. (see timeline here).
Over the objections of Nantucket Tipping Point, Nantucket Land Council, and the Town of Nantucket, the Housing Appeals Committee determined that the new 156-unit, all condominium plan submitted by Surfside Crossing was an “insubstantial” change to the original plan submitted in 2017 (see timeline and images images here). Town counsel has filed a complaint in the Nantucket Superior Court seeking judicial review of that decision as arbitrary and capricious, and requesting that the matter be remanded (to the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals), citing the removal of single family homes, increase in building height and number of parking spaces, change in the landscape plans, and the decrease in usable open space and perimeter buffer areas, among several other changes.
The new Presiding Officer, Mr. Lohe, also denied a Motion to Stay filed by Town Counsel which asked that the Housing Appeals Committee delay the September 16, 2020 pre-hearing conference between themselves and Surfside Crossing until the Superior Court rules on the complaint mentioned above arguing that “The Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) proceedings overlap significantly and exist on a parallel track with the Superior Court case. The Superior Court’s decision, however, will impact these HAC proceedings as it will result in the resolution of certain issues also pending before this adjudicatory body, one way or another…Therefore, it would be unnecessarily duplicative to proceed with the conferences and hearings before the Housing Appeals Committee in this case while the Superior Court action is pending. Specifically, where these parallel proceedings affect the same project determinations, contain the same issues, and impact the same parties, they are so closely related that the judgment of the Superior Court will necessarily have an impact on the HAC proceeding".
What Happens Next:
Nantucket Superior Court rules on Town Counsel’s complaint seeking judicial review of Housing Appeal's Committee's decision that the changes in the Surfside Crossing plan are “insubstantial”.
Although Nantucket Tipping Point was denied the ability to be an intervener at the Housing Appeals Committee hearings, and therefore does not have an official “seat at the table", we will continue to monitor the hearing process at the Housing Appeals Committee and keep you posted.
Two generous Nantucket Tipping Point supporters have created the opportunity for a $20,000 match challenge. Given the realities of fundraising during Covid, we have extended the deadline through October. Financial support for Nantucket Tipping Point has always represented a true cross section of the Nantucket community with donations from $5 to $10,000 being gratefully received! Please donate – in any amount – here. Thank you!
July 3, 2020
PFAS contamination found in wells on Nantucket
In 2018, attorney John Coon, PhD, JD on behalf of Nantucket Tipping Point, brought the issue of groundwater contamination by chemicals such as PFAS and PFOS to the attention of the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals and the approximately 100 community members present at the meeting.
On April 29, 2020 Weston Solutions, an “environmental and infrastructure “ consultant that deals with hazardous waste and its remediation, issued an Immediate Response Action Plan (linked below) for Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK). This plan is a preliminary evaluation of the groundwater contamination in the airport area – “preliminary” because most of the properties in question are seasonal and the consultants were not able to get access to test the well water. The areas of immediate concern are at the airport and the 22 properties south of the airport in a residential area along Madequecham Valley Road. Of the drinking water supply and monitoring wells that were tested, the presence of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was confirmed (in varying concentrations). Some of the levels of PFAS are at “concentrations representative of a potential Imminent Hazard (IH) condition if the water were to be consumed”. The report goes on to say that "Additional water supply sampling may be required in residences located west of ACK, along Monohansett Road and Okorwaw Avenue, if it is determined that those residences are not supplied with municipal water."
PFOS and PFAS are chemicals found in the fire-fighting foam used at airports for drills, training, and emergencies. The report states that “ACK is in the process of switching to fluorine-free foam, any potential release(s) are believed to be historical.” And that the use of PFAS-containing foam is not “anticipated unless in response to an aircraft incident.”
There are several reasons to be very concerned:
See Links below for the reports submitted to the Nantucket Memorial Airport from Weston Solutions:
June 12, 2020