By Beth David, Editor
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has denied a request by PJ Keating for the relocation of its hot mix asphalt operation to be considered exempt from a modification and, therefore, further review and approval by the state and the town.
In a letter dated 4/28/20, the DEP stated that the January 3rd submittal by PJK “failed to demonstrated that the Relocation meets the criteria for 310 CMR 7.02(2)(b)27 Exemption from Plan Approval” for several reasons.
First, the “proposed hot mix asphalt drum plant equipment as relocated does not appear to be limited to equipment that was previously approved in Plan Approval 4P09023, dated January 6, 2010,” wrote the DEP.
The letter also states that a “new aggregate dryer” is also equipment not previously approved; and there are also new “sound mitigation measures to be installed that wer not previously installed on the existing approved hot mix asphalt drum plant equipment at its previous location at the Facility.”
The letter also states that the background sound data/study from 2017 is outdated, and is “not representative of existing current 2020 conditions. Collection of current background sound data, while the hot mix asphalt drum plan is not operating, is optimal for this analysis and background date should be monitored and gathered representative of current conditions.”
The letter also states that there are “predicted increases” of sound levels at two residences during night time operations. Additional sound mitigation may be necessary after operations begin, states the letter, and that means it would not meet the requirements for exemption.
“The existing equipment should not need to be modified to avoid creating a noise nuisance condition,” states the letter. “If additional sound mitigation is required for the relocated existing hot mix asphalt drum plan then the proposed installation does not meet” the requirement for exemption.
The letter also takes issue with an “air quality modeling study” submitted by the company, stating it was “not done in accordance with MassDEP Bureau of Air and Waste (BAW) Air Quality Modeling Branch approved modeling protocol.”
The letter states that the protocol must be submitted, and must include information from a list of nine or ten technical requirements including drawings, analyses, and scientific data, including “proposed background air quality concentrations.”
The final shortcoming identified in the letter states that the January 3rd submittal “‘did not address nuisance conditions other than noise. In order for the MassDEP to fully evaluate the proposed relocation the proponent must demonstrate that the relocation will not cause a nuisance with respect to odor and dust.”
The letter clearly states that given the findings of DEP, “the Facility cannot operate the relocated hot mix asphalt plant and hot oil heater until such time as it has demonstrated that it meets the requirements of 310 CMR 7.02(5) or it has obtained a modification…”
The letter instructs PJK to schedule a visit by MassDEP to inspect the new plant.
Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher sent a letter, along with a copy of the DEP letter, in a press release on April 29. The following is that letter in full.
A VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF
April 29, 2020
“Last week I provided, at the request of the Acushnet Board of Selectmen, an update on the Town of Acushnet’s involvement in continuing issues with the relocation of the Hot Mix Asphalt Plant at PJ Keating. To summarize, the Selectmen are in the process of considering a Land Use License modification, the State Fire Marshal will not consider issuing a permit for the liquid asphalt storage tanks to be filled without a valid Land Use License and I, acting within my authority granted by the Fire Code, issued an Order of Notice prohibiting the off-loading of liquid asphalt directly into the production process without detailed fire engineering studies. PJ Keating has appealed this Order.
“At the direction of the Board of Selectmen, I am sharing with the residents of Acushnet a letter issued on April 28, 2020 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The letter states that, following DEP’s review of air quality and sound analyses submitted earlier this year, Keating failed to demonstrate that the relocation of the asphalt plant meets certain regulatory standards.
“DEP expresses concern in three main areas; air quality, noise and other nuisance conditions. As was discussed by town officials at the initial Land Use License public hearing in February, the current Air Quality Plan Approval was issued in 2010 and was specific to certain equipment used at that time. DEP further states that the ‘background sound data/study’ conducted in 2017 are outdated and that Keating must ‘…demonstrate that the relocation will not cause a nuisance condition with respect to odor and dust.’
“In conclusion, DEP writes that ‘…given the MassDEP findings identified in this document, the Facility cannot operate the relocated hot mix asphalt drum plant and hot oil heater until such time as it has demonstrated that it meets the requirements of 310 CMR…’
“The interest of the Town has been solely on the safety and health of the public and the environment. We have taken local actions to insure that those interests are met. With this response from MassDEP apparently so has the state.
“We will keep the community updated as these concerns play out”.
Kevin A. Gallagher, Fire Chief
PJ Keating has operated a quarry and hot asphalt mixing plant on the property on South Main Street for decades. This year, the company moved the asphalt operation to the front of the property to be able to dig where the old plant was.
The company relocated the tanks and other equipment, some new and some old, to the front of the property before securing the permits necessary for the plant to operate.
The situation has been in a stalement for several months. The Selectboard held a public hearing in February (Neighb News, 2/20/20 issue), and the Acushnet Soild Board has also had discussions at several of its meetings (available for viewing at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQLn-V7X9rp0JdWXh445neQ).
A copy of the DEP letter is available on our website: www.NeighbNews.com
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Click here to download the entire 5/7/20 issue: 05-07-20 BreakfastBags
Click here to download the MassDEP letter about PJ Keating: SP PJ Keating Applicability Determination 04282020