Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee

The Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee was created in 2013 to advocate common Housatonic River cleanup goals for the Rest of River to the EPA. It is governed by an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed by each municipality. Committee members are appointed by their respective executive authorities. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has provided technical, fiduciary, facilitation and coordination assistance. The IGA authorized the Committee to represent the collective interests of the municipalities during development of the 2016 Permit and any potential subsequent actions.

Initially consisting of Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Sheffield and Stockbridge, this was the first time all the Massachusetts municipalities on the Housatonic River directly impacted by the cleanup spoke with one voice. This single voice focus gave the Committee attention, access and a presence previously only afforded to Pittsfield. Before the 2016 Revised Permit was issued, the Committee sought to influence what would be in the EPA’s Permit governing the Rest of River cleanup. Pittsfield left the Committee in October 2016.

In order to effectively participate in the permit process, the Committee hired legal counsel (originally Pawa Law Group, currently Seeger Weiss) and exercised its rights as a party commenting on the Permit and subsequently appealed the permit before the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The key issue before the EAB for the municipalities was whether there would be one or more in-county hazardous waste landfills.

In 2018, the Committee joined mediation along with the U.S. EPA, the Housatonic River Initiative, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Mass Audubon, the State of Connecticut, the City of Pittsfield, C. Jeffrey Cook, and GE. In February 2020, nearly all of the parties entered into a mediated settlement agreement, which can be viewed (Fully Executed Settlement Agreement – see Documents). A Statement from the Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee can be found (Rest of River Media Packet -see Documents).

The Committee has worked together for over eight years during EPA’s rewrite of the 2016 Revised Permit, the public comment period, and issuance of the Revised Final Permit and will continue working together during all phases of the River cleanup.  The Committee is actively engaged in the review of technical documents provided by GE and EPA in an effort to protect the natural resources and the communities interests as the clean-up proceeds.

For more information on land use issues please contact Melissa Provencher, Environmental & Energy Program Manager at mprovencher@berkshireplanning.org or (413) 442-1521 ext. 22.

EPA GE Housatonic Site Field Activities

Weeks of 11/15/22 – 11/28/22

  • The eighth and final interim Baseline Monitoring Plan surface water sampling event will occur from November 29 to 30, 2022. GE will collect surface water samples from 8 locations as part of the interim baseline monitoring program. Additionally, EPA will collect a split sample from one location for QA/QC purposes.  The sampling results will be used to refine the two-year pre-remediation baseline sampling program, which is scheduled to begin in 2023.
  • The fourth 2022 quarterly dam inspections at Rising Pond Dam and Woods Pond Dam were completed on November 21, 2022.
  • GE contractors will be conducting banks and sediment sampling in Reach 5A.  This effort is designed to characterize contamination in the banks and sediment in Reach 5A, which will be used to help design the remediation plan.  The fieldwork is expected to last through the end of the year as weather allows.
  • Monthly manual groundwater elevation gauging and quarterly groundwater sampling being initiated at the UDF this week.

Week of 11/8/22

  • GE contractors continue to conduct banks and sediment sampling in Reach 5A.  This effort is designed to characterize contamination in the banks and sediment in Reach 5A, which will be used to help design the remediation plan.  The fieldwork is expected to last through November.
  • GE contractors will be conducting groundwater elevation gauging at UDF this week.

Weeks of 10/24/22 – 10/31/22

  • GE contractors will be conducting banks and sediment sampling in Reach 5A.  This effort is designed to characterize contamination in the banks and sediment in Reach 5A, which will be used to help design the remediation plan.  The fieldwork is expected to last through November.
  • The seventh interim Baseline Monitoring Plan surface water sampling event is scheduled for October 25-26, 2022. GE will collect surface water samples from 8 locations as part of the interim baseline monitoring program. Additionally, EPA will collect a split sample from one location for QA/QC purposes.  The sampling results will be used to refine the two-year pre-remediation baseline sampling program, which is scheduled to begin in 2023.

Week of 10/11/22

  • The seventh interim Baseline Monitoring Plan surface water sampling event is scheduled for the end of October 2022. GE will collect surface water samples from 8 locations as part of the interim baseline monitoring program. Additionally, EPA will collect a split sample from one location for QA/QC purposes.  The sampling results will be used to refine the two-year pre-remediation baseline sampling program, which is scheduled to begin in 2023.
  • GE contractors will be conducting banks and sediment sampling in Reach 5A.  This effort is designed to characterize contamination in the banks and sediment in Reach 5A, which will be used to help design the remediation plan.  The fieldwork is expected to last through October.
  • Additional Cultural Resources Assessment field investigations will be conducted at the UDF this week.   The result of these investigations will be included in a report summarizing all CRA activities at the UDF in early December.