Ground remediation at East Chop Light delayed

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The deletion of 230 tonnes of lead contaminated soil at the East Chop lighthouse, it is “unlikely” to start in September as planned, according to a US Coast Guard official. Municipal emails obtained by The Times via a request for public documents reveal that permit issues were blamed for the delay in construction.

In an email to Oak Bluffs Town Administrator Deborah Potter and Deputy Town Administrator Wendy Brough, Coast Guard Lt. Brandon Newman said the Coast Guard would rather wait until spring. to get the job done. Lt. Newman also appears to suggest waiting for an early transfer of the Coast Guard lighthouse to the town of Oak Bluffs via the General Services Administration (GSA) to occur, and then transferring some of the responsibility for the work to the city.

“Due to clearance delays, the original timing for the start of remediation in September is unlikely,” Lt. Newman wrote. “As we get closer to winter, it will be more difficult for the grass to grow in cold weather and stabilize the soil, potentially forcing the contractor to come back in the spring. To mitigate this, we recommend postponing remediation until spring, which would only delay the GSA transfer process. We are confident that the project would still be completed by Memorial Day in this case. There are other avenues such as handing over the responsibility for soil stabilization to the new owner, or if there is a prioritization on the review of permits. We can discuss this further with you if you wish.

In an email to The Times, Petty Officer Amanda Wyrick clarified that the permit issue was with the Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission.

“The current delay has to do with submitting a Notice of Intent to the Town of Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission (they enforce the Wetlands Protection Act, I believe) because our land disturbance activities are at less than 100 feet from a coastal bluff, ”Wyrick wrote. . “The NOI process requires a site map stamped by an engineer with various items that our contractor has difficulty finding an engineering company that is not backed up for two months. Additionally, the contractor was notified when contacted the Conservation Commission that all NOI applicants are being forced to forgo the 21-day review period due to a COVID delay.

Wryrick also clarified what is meant by work after the potential transfer via GSA.

“The Coast Guard has not suggested that the Town of Oak Bluffs could do the remediation on its own,” Wyrick wrote. “One of the ideas we came up with to the city was that if we could complete the NOI process within a reasonable time, so that we could complete the soil remediation phase in 2021, the real estate management could start. transfer of ownership. if the city wanted this done sooner rather than later if they wanted to complete the soil restoration part (i.e. grass planting / watering). The goal of the USCG has always been to remediate the property to ensure that it is safe to human health before it is transferred out of the USCG property.

East Chop Light sits inside Telegraph Hill Park on a 60ft by 60ft parcel of federal land. It is a popular tourist attraction and a wedding venue. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum has a license to use the Coast Guard Lighthouse, but has been unable to grant public access to the structure for more than a year due to the risk of lead in the soil.

Recent investigative work has found lead contamination from old lighthouse paint to be highest just outside the federal plot in Telegraph Hill Park. The concentration peaked at 16,600 ppm (parts per million). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action thresholds are 1200 ppm for generally bare soil and 400 ppm for children’s play areas.

The Oak Bluffs Board of Health recently recommended that city-supported land surveying work be done, as Coast Guard land surveying work was largely confined to the federal parcel and its immediate outskirts. The board of directors thereafter authorized $ 3,400 to test 6,500 square feet of municipal land. Town health worker Meegan Lancaster told the board of directors the main concern was lead paint from a former lighthouse keeper’s dwelling and a shed.

The Potter City administrator did not immediately respond to a phone message asking for comment.


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