The Report describes a 16-ton-capacity truck with a tarp to seal the bed, as pictured here. Photo courtesy of AdobeStock.
According to the “General Electric (GE) Company Housatonic River – Rest of River Transportation and Disposal Plan,” the estimated duration of truck traffic associated with PCB disposal is 13 years; the total number of trucks to transport the estimated volume is 64,000 trucks, or just under 5,000 trucks per year; the daily average of truck trips assumes a dump truck with a 16-ton capacity; and the need and type of reconditioning and upgrading of the roads and associated infrastructure to make them suitable for truck traffic is yet to be determined.
These numbers and figures are directly from the report. It is estimated that that will result in as many as 50 16-ton-capacity trucks per day on Main Street in Stockbridge. What do you think the impact will be on the Red Lion Inn, the annual Christmas on Main Street event, or the tourist economy in general?
The report explains, in Lenox, “truck traffic to the UDF [upland disposal facility at Woods Pond] would likely use Massachusetts Route 183 (MA-183) or U.S. Route 7 to Walker Street.” Have you experienced Tanglewood traffic on Walker Street? Add 50 trucks with a 16-ton capacity each and reimagine the traffic tie-up. Regardless of what representatives from GE or the EPA say verbally, the report states, “by truck is considered more practicable than transportation by railroad for the following reasons: There are currently no usable railroad sidings available in or in proximity to the UDF; if a siding is developed or reconditioned by a third party, GE will reconsider whether it is feasible and/or appropriate to use that siding for railroad transportation of material to the UDF; the use of an existing railroad siding area would require complete replacement of infrastructure at that location by installing new track and ballast, and there is uncertainty in the ability to obtain access to privately owned rail sidings and to obtain other agreements to recondition and use railroad siding locations and loading areas near [the removal sites] or near the UDF.”
Put aside the impact of the trucks whizzing by more than two an hour, filled with hazardous waste and exuding whatever unfortunate emissions, even if one doesn’t hit something, roll over, and spill sometime in 34 years. Let’s consider the need to recondition and upgrade the roads to accommodate the beasts. Does that mean widen roads? Does that mean cutting down trees and paving over wildflowers? What happens to the bike lanes? Where do the dozens of Berkshire walkers on the shoulders of our quiet streets go?
Last but not least: A war could erupt between Lenox, Lee, and Stockbridge—villages that have lived in peace for hundreds of years. South County villages could fight to reroute the trucks away from their streets, fight the widening of their streets and concomitant loss of their trees. Which one of our lovely villages wants to be made ugly and polluted by cumbersome, overloaded trucks? There could be a war created and egged on by GE and the EPA.
Some things are very funny and, at the same time, very, very sad. One is that the next report the EPA requested from GE is GE’s “Quality of Life Compliance Plan,” scheduled to be submitted to EPA in December 2023.
I always thought of Stockbridge as “America’s Hometown.” A place people missed without ever living here. How? Because they missed the dream that was made real here.
I always thought of South Berkshire as a healthy place to live. Evidently, many agreed and fled here during COVID. Land and house prices skyrocketed because of what we preserved and protected; others graved. Now we have the EPA (environmental protection?) among us to destroy what we so carefully did not destroy in almost 300 years. Now we have GE, polluters for profit, trying to wriggle out of the obligation to clean up by fashioning a plan that will cost them the least and leave more destruction behind. Shame on them.