ExxonMobil to meet with Charlton residents on new water lines for area with tainted wells

by Debbie Laplaca, originally posted on June 6, 2016


CHARLTON – Residents with tainted drinking water will get a look at plans this week to bring clean water to their homes.

ExxonMobil Corp. representatives will meet with residents regarding groundwater contamination, remediation efforts and the installation of new water lines to bring clean water to their homes and businesses.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Charlton Middle School.

The town reached an agreement with ExxonMobil in April to permanently alleviate well water contamination caused by a large gasoline spill in the 1980s at the former LaMountain’s Exxon station on Route 20.

The state Department of Environmental Protection holds ExxonMobil responsible for the spill from its underground fuel storage tank, which sent MTBE, formerly a gasoline additive, into the water table.

DEP spokesman Edmund J. Coletta Jr. said Friday ExxonMobil has tested 82 drinking water wells in the spill vicinity since January. Lab results identified MTBE detections ranging from 0.6 to 5.5 parts per billion in seven of the wells.

The DEP drinking water safety standard says MTBE is not to exceed 70 ppb.

ExxonMobil is providing households with bottled water or whole-house filtration. The one school where the contaminant was detected, Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High, began filtering its drinking water two weeks ago.

The push for ExxonMobil to remediate by paying for new municipal water lines began in earnest when Charlton signed supply pact with Southbridge for more water in April 2015.

After a year of talks, Town Administrator Robin L. Craver announced the agreed-upon concessions made by ExxonMobil have an estimated value of $30 million.

The new water infrastructure part of the deal calls for ExxonMobil to install six miles of water line from Main Street, over Old Worcester Road, across Morton Station Road, along Old Muggett Hill Road to Main Street, where it would form a loop.

The so called “school loop” would supply clean water to Bay Path, Charlton Middle School, Heritage School and to all homes along its route.

According to Ms. Craver’s press release, new water lines will also be installed on Hammerock Road, Dodge Lane, L. Stevens Road and H. Putnam Road. Additionally, a new water line off Main Street will connect the Overlook Masonic Health Center.

Ms. Craver said the agreement includes a $7.7 million cash settlement for the town to pay off its water infrastructure debt, cancel water betterments assessed on existing lines, and credit those who have already paid.

Because ExxonMobil is funding the new water lines, Ms. Craver said, the town will not assess betterments to abutters.

Also, she said, the company has agreed to provide free hookups to the new water lines for all properties with MTBE detections.

Uncontaminated residential properties abutting the new lines will also receive free connections if they sign up within 12 months of activation of the system.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said the public information meeting Wednesday is designed for two-way dialogue “to share information with the community, but also to ensure individuals get an opportunity to ask their questions.”

After brief opening remarks, residents will be invited to circulate among three information stations. One will focus on the spill at LaMountain’s, another on the ongoing testing and monitoring of groundwater contamination from that site, and the third on the water line construction timeline.

All information stations are expected to be staffed by experts who can answer residents’ questions.

Among those presenting will be Scott Wybro, project execution area manager for ExxonMobil Environmental Services, and engineers from Kleinfelder, the company handling remediation.

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