Toxic cranberries? Chromium, copper and arsenic (CCA) from treated wood poles for solar projects installed in cranberry bogs are poisoning soils, water, environment

Breaking: Oct. 20, 2021:

Letter sent to Carver Selectboard, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and Earth Removal Committee demanding that they immediately address the placement of wooden poles treated with toxic Copper Chromated Arsenic near wetlands, aquifers, and food sources.

•the removal of toxic timber poles treated with Copper Chromated Arsenic from the solar sites at 340 Tremont Street, Rochester Road and Wenham Street;

•a full investigation and study of the environmental and health impacts of these poles under the auspices of the U.S. EPA and MA DEP;

•compliance with Massachusetts Hazardous Material Release and Prevention Response Act, Chapter 21E, the state’s Superfund Law;

•complete restoration of the wetlands, remediation of soil contamination and assessment of threats to water quality, private drinking water wells, the PlymouthCarver Sole Source Aquifer; and

•an immediate halt to the ongoing unlawful earth removal being conducted at some or all of these sites which is compounding the environmental damage from the toxic CCA poles.

Breaking: Oct. 11, 2021:

Confirmed use of CCA poles at 3 sites in Carver

AD Makepeace and other cranberry bogs using CCA toxic poles to mount industrial solar panels

Carver, Massachusetts calls itself the “Cranberry Capital”. Ocean Spray has a processing facility here and AD Makepeace Co. claims it is the world’s largest cranberry grower. Today, Cranberry Country is being rocked by revelations that poles treated with toxic wood preservatives are being installed in cranbery bogs to mount industrial solar projects.

It’s not a question of if these toxic chemicals will leach out of the poles and into our water – but a question of when. Next week, next year, or in the next decade. How long before they reach the Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer that serves as the only drinking water supply for Carver and six other towns? How long before they reach the private drinking water wells within feet of the sites? We demand answers from a professional team of researchers, hydrologists, toxicologists and soil experts. The state must step in. Local officials have tried to sweep this and the destructive earth removal associated with these sites under the rug for too long.

As of Oct. 6, 2021, according to the Conservation Commission (video starting at 1:08) about 4,000 toxic poles are stacked up to be installed and about 1,500 are in place at two sites: 340 Tremont Street and Rochester Road. This is at least 100 acres. NextSun Energy was the original developer of these projects. It has now sold to Pine Gate Renewables. Next Sun has a track record of destruction and not following through on proper maintenance of its solar projects. In Shutesbury, MA it is violating the Conservation Commission order of conditions for stormwater and site restoration. Next Sun is proposing a 250 acre solar project in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Another large, destructive project.

On Oct. 10, 2021 it was confirmed that AD Makepeace is also using the toxic poles on its cranberry bogs for one mile of solar panels over a waterway through the bogs. A fourth site, Rocky Maple bogs, has been approved by Carver and a fifth site, Federal Furnace bogs, a 95 acre site, is proposed.

State and local officials have looked the other way while our Sole Source Aquifer, soils, wildlife and waterways are being intentionally poisoned by the toxic chemicals that are or will leach from the poles. Consultants like Beals+Thomas, representing AD Makepeace, PineGate Renewables and others have failed to disclose the plans to use the toxic poles to local officials, making the consultants complicit in this scheme.

We first reported on this issue in early August, 2021. It has taken 2 months to get local officials to address the issue. We are still confronting a cover-up and lack of transparency. All of the plans, memos, reports and Town discussions about this should be posted on the Town of Carver website. Instead, the public is forced to file cumbersome and time consuming Public Records Requests while work continues and our water and environment are being poisoned. The public is not being properly informed.

PHOTOS & VIDEOS OF THE SITES ARE HERE:

Site 1: PineGate Renewables, 340 Tremont St., Carver MA: confirmed site using thousands of CCA treated wood poles to mount solar panels in a wetland cranberry bog, October, 2021

340 Tremont St., Carver MA: Confirmed site of CCA-treated poles for solar, PineGate Renewables. Landowners are Mark Weston, Trustee, Robert Williams Trustee, and Wianio Bogs.
CCA toxic poles waiting to be installed at PineGate Renewables solar site at 340 Tremont Street, Carver MA, Sept. 2021
PineGate Renewables CCA toxic poles for solar at 340 Tremont St., Carver MA, Fall 2021

Site 2: PineGate Renewables sites on Rochester Road, Carver MA: confirmed site using thousands of CCA treated wood poles to mount solar panels in a wetland cranberry bogs, October, 2021

Rochester Road, Carver MA: confirmed site of CCA-treated poles for solar, PineGate Renewables. Projects located at 0 Rochester Road, 0 Rear Rochester Road, 60 Rochester Road. Owners include Wianio Cranberry and other owners of multiple parcels on Map 92, Carver Assessors Map.

Carver officials are giving conflicting stories. Members of the Conservation Commission state “we never approved this” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-omtg9tACg&t=3946s (Mr. Germain at about 1:17) while the Conservation Agent says and the Commission agrees when PineGate announced it was switching from steel poles to pressure treated poles the Commission did a site visit and approved use of the poles. The Commission admits it did a site visit to see the wood poles. How could they have not also asked about whether the poles were treated and required wetland replication for poles that are “2-3 times bigger” than the steel poles originally approved? This is a cover-up.

This is also willful misrepresentation by the original applicants, NextGate Solar, its successor, PineGate Renewables and their consultants and engineers, Beals+Thomas. These companies never revealed to the public or to regulators that toxic chemicals would be used on the poles. This was also a coverup.

A stop work order was issued by the Conservation Commission on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 to PineGate Renewables for sites on Rochester Road and Tremont Street but work continued at at least one of the companies sites on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021 ignoring the Town’s legal authority to shut down a project.

Site 3: A third toxic pole solar site has been confirmed as of Oct. 10, 2o21 on AD Makepeace bogs.

October 10, 2021, photographs confirm AD Makepeace and Renewable Energy Development Partners (REDP) are installing CCA treated poles at the Makepeace Swan Holt solar project site off Wenham Street. The plan is to install one mile of the CCA poles on either side of an agricultural canal to mount “innovative” solar canopies. Land-based solar is also planned for an area that is being strip mined to “prepare” the site for solar.

AD Makepeace solar canopy site, Swan Holt bogs off Wenham St., Carver MA Oct. 10, 2021
AD Makepeace site plan for solar canopy at Swan Holt bogs, Wenham St., Carver MA. One mile of toxic poles lining both sides of the bog and waterway through the bogs.
Poles stacked up at AD Makepeace Swan Holt solar canopy bog site, Wenham St., Carver MA, Oct. 10, 2021
CCA tags on AD Makepeace timber poles to be put in wetland for solar canopy, Swan Holt bog site, Wenham St., Carver MA, Oct. 10, 2021

**Swan Holt is also referred to as “Swan Hold” in historical and archeological records. It is a significant Native American cultural site.

What is this toxic pesticide, CCA?

CCA was banned by EPA in 2004, then use was allowed with labeling and certain conditions following a challenge by the industry. EPA describes CCA way:

Chromated arsenicals, which include chromated copper arsenate (CCA), are a group of pesticides containing chromium, copper, and/or arsenic that protect wood against termites, fungi and other pests that can degrade or threaten the integrity of wood products. Chromated arsenicals-treated wood is used to produce commercial wood poles, posts, shakes, shingles, permanent foundation support beams, pilings, and other wood products permitted by approved labeling

Chromated arsenicals pose cancer and non-cancer health risks of concern to workers in wood treatment facilities. EPA did not find health risks of concern for the general public.

Chromated arsenicals pose risks to aquatic invertebrates and plants.

CCA and other wood preservative chemicals are undergoing a regulatory review by EPA due to potential health risk to humans. Is this safe? Who knows? No one seems to have an answer–not the solar developers, the towns who approved this or the state who provides the ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies.

What is the impact of adding more toxic chemicals to cranberry bogs? For 100 years, the cranberry industry has been dumping pesticides containing chromated arsenicals on the bogs. It also uses large amounts of fertilizers. What is the impact of adding MORE of this toxic chemical to our wetlands on top of our sole source drinking water aquifer? Where are our state regulators such as the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Energy Resources? Did they give the OK for these “dual use” solar projects that are getting ratepayer energy subsidies as a “dual use” under the SMART solar program?

We’ve asked DOER to assure us that the chemically treated poles in the wetlands won’t leach chemicals into our groundwater. No answer. Cranberries are 90% water. Are chemicals leaching into the berries? Maybe Ocean Spray and its partner Pepsi want to find out.

On Sept. 7, 2021, Hank Ouimet, principal of REDP told the Rochester Conservation Commission that the company planned to use wooden poles treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) on its “dual use” project on Neck Road in the Long Pond Bogs on Snapituit Pond. REDP produced a “memo” from its paid consultant in response to the public’s questions about the health and environmental impacts of putting CCA treated poles in an acidic environment like a cranberry bog wetland. This report raises more questions than answers and is not a professional, peer reviewed objective answer. It is linked below.

In May 2021 the public interest group Beyond Pesticides recommended to EPA that use of CCA be banned due to lack of credible scientific information on its safety and “the serious human health and ecological risks” identified by EPA itself. Maybe the cranberry industry should do some research.

FAKE CROPS

These “dual use” projects are supposed to have crops growing under them. The cranberry industry is hopping on the subsidy bandwagon with solar developers such as NextSun Energy and Renewable Energy Development Partners (REDP) installing these projects every where. The leading spokesman for the cranberry industry essentially says this is an experiment. He says we won’t know for 5-6 years whether crops will grow under the panels.

“There is a lot of thought going into how to do these things right,” said Iain Ward, a veteran cranberry farmer and solar consultant who will be operating the parcels in Carver for Pine Gate. “In five to six years, we’re going to have new best practices specifically tailored to growing crops under dual-use arrays.”

At the REPD solar site in Carver, principal Hank Ouimet admitted publicly on Sept. 7, 2021 that even though the “dual use” project is installed, there is no farm plan as required by DOER and no crops growing.

Why are we gambling with our farmland at a time when arable land is at a premium and locally grown food is a trend? These projects are in direct conflict with the state’s professed goals of sustainable agriculture and “grow local” Massachusetts — and don’t make sense. These industrial power utilities on agricultural land locks us in to 20-30 years — the life of one of these solar projects.

Fake Dual Use Project: REDP solar, 31R Gate Street, Carver MA. The site was strip mined for sand and gravel before solar was put in. REDP claimed this was to “create farmland”.

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