Almost two hours of discussion on environmental safeguards that would protect Eagleville Road properties and the town's reservoir watershed area from contamination if Site-Ready Materials' transfer facility is approved did little to quell residents' opposition to the proposed expansion on Tuesday night.
The Tiverton Planning Board heard from Site-Ready lawyers and engineers who described conceptual facility designs that would contain pollution on site and be subject to stringent approval and maintenance guidelines by the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
"Our biggest concern is the pollution," said Jeff Nagle, of 330 South Christopher Ave. "Our concern is it getting into our water supply. So when you mentioned that you had these safeguards, when you are dumping tons and tons of garbage in plastic bags onto a floor, the inspection process seems like it would be more of an oversight."
According to Site-Ready's application with the Planning Board, the transfer facility would process up to 1,500 tons of recyclables, construction and demolition debris and municipal solid waste daily. The company estimated an the material would be transported via about 740 trucks that would travel to the Eagleville Road site by way of Fish and Stafford roads daily.
"I'm very opposed to this," Nagle added. "I don't think the Town of Tiverton, if you look at this town's history, we have learned about safeguards and how they fail and I think to do this and jeopardize our water supply is a very large mistake."
Jason Gold, a state-licensed physical engineer from SGE/Northeast Engineers & Consultants in Middletown has 16 years experience with the firm in environmental engineering.
"I have been working on this project from the beginning to ensure the project is protective of the environment and public health and safety," said Gold.
The transfer station would accept recyclables, construction and demolition debris and municipal solid waste - all to be sorted separately before being sent to a final disposal facility. According to Gold, as trash is unloaded off of garbage trucks, it is subjected to four inspection processes as the load moves from the scales to the tipping floor, is sorted and finally reloaded for transport to a final disposal facility.
Hazardous materials, medical waste, computers and liquids are just a few examples of unacceptable materials that would not be processed at the site.
In order to gain operating permits from the state, Gold said the Site-Ready Materials project plans would be subjected to a nine to 12-month DEM review. State engineers would review everything from drainage to hazardous waste mitigation plans to ensure protection of public health and safety and the environment.
"We are looking at 24 different items to ensure zero dust, litter control, and leeching, unacceptable materials and long list of everything that is important in the operation of a transfer facility," said Gold. "That's where the details will be in how we operate and there will be plenty of opportunity for public participation in that process."
Gold said drains around the building would divert all debris and leakage into a double-walled 5,000-gallon holding tank that would be periodically emptied. In case of what Gold called a "worst-case scenario" where leakage did enter the public drainage system, drain seals, absorbent booms, and finally a sand filter would be used to ensure pollutants and hazardous materials did not make it into public drains - and contaminate groundwater.
Residents were skeptical environmental safeguards could provide total protection from contaminants that could threaten private wells along Eagleville Road and the Stafford Pond watershed area.
"I'm very skeptical, I don't care how green this plant says it's going to be, we're going to be stuck with it and we need to look ahead and see what's going to happen if our wells, our water system, become contaminated," said Michael Proto, of 419 Eagleville Road. "You can kiss your Florida homes goodbye because you're not going to be able to sell your houses with contaminated wells."
Residents were worried about the impact of added traffic and debris on access roads leading to the transfer facility that could put pressure on Tiverton's infrastructure as well as create a litter problem.
"We complained about the Rite-Aid because it didn't have the right facade," said Peter Chmura, who's home abutts the Site-Ready property on Eagleville Road. "This is what you want in your town? You want to be the trash town? I think we can do a little better in this town if you want industry."
The Planning Board voted to continue the Site-Ready Materials master plan approval hearing until the Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall. The board will hear and discuss the findings of a traffic study at that meeting.