The University of Connecticut recently established an advisory committee to identify alternate sites for the hazardous materials storage facility, now known as the “main accumulation area” (MAA).
The current facility located off Horsebarn Hill was constructed as a temporary storage area for chemical, biological and medical waste and “low-level” radioactive material generated by the academic and research facilities.
The committee, which includes UConn and town representatives, is tasked with identifying five potential alternative sites, said UConn Environmental Compliance Analyst Jason Coite.
The group will review options that have been considered in the past, as well as the current site and any others brought to the table.
“We’re still working off the original options that were proposed back in 2003-04,” said Coite.
UConn officials have considered the relocation of the facility for at least a decade.
Some area residents claim the university has been dragging its feet. They are concerned about the possibility of contamination of the Willimantic reservoir and the Natchaug and Shetucket rivers, though there haven’t been any reported incidents.
Coite said reconvening the committee “was the best first step” to getting conversations about the MAA going.
The MAA site advisory committee includes Chair Richard Miller who is UConn Office of Environmental Policy Director, representatives from the Willimantic River Alliance and Windham Water Works, Mansfield Planning and Development Director Linda Painter, Mansfield Fire Chief David Dagon and resident Bill Lennon.
As part of its charge, the advisory committee will identify a preferred location and other options, a process they hope to complete this summer.
Its next meeting has not been scheduled.
Once the locations have been recommended, they will undergo an environmental impact evaluation (EIE), a process Coite said could take a year or more. Community members will have the opportunity to comment on the EIE findings throughout the process.
Options to be reviewed by the committee include two locations on the northern UConn campus, one in the science quadrangle and another in the northwest corner of campus.
According to university officials, the current MAA facility is regulated by various agencies, including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state Department of Public Health. The water company also regularly tests local water to ensure it is not being contaminated by hazardous materials.
Chemical waste is securely stored in the facility for no more than 90 days before it is transported off-site for disposal by an EPA-permitted company, according to UConn officials.
Posted July 19, 2012
Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. For daily updates on local and Connecticut news, “like” us on Facebook at HTNP News. https://www.facebook.com/HTNPnews and find us on Twitter at HTNP News (@HTNPNews )