Monday, October 1, 2001, restored the flow of 100,000 gallons of water per day from the Harrisville water system. At approximately 7:30 p.m. Monday evening, the valve was opened between the two systems, allowing the flow from Harrisville to Pascoag. Harrisville Water Department is providing this water at no cost to Pascoag Water Department. Special thanks to all involved in this project.
Tuesday, October 2, 2001, Pascoag Utility District’s Board of Utility Commissioners held a special meeting to address the remediation of MTBE in Pascoag’s water supply.
The Board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of its environmental contractor, Lincoln Environmental, to purchase and install a carbon filtration system capable of treating the flow of water, at the specified pressure, from Well 3 and Well 3A. This carbon filtration system is intended to filter the Pascoag water to accomplish reductions of MTBE levels.
The cost of this installation is to be paid by the funds pledged from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).
Wednesday, October 3, 2001, the Town of Burrillville received notification that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), requested by Pascoag Utility District, was awarded by Governor Almond. This grant, in the amount of $200,000, will fund the initial remediation steps taken by Pascoag in the MTBE crisis. The Town of Burrillville will extend its own funds to Pascoag immediately, with the CDBG funds reimbursing the Town in June.
Wednesday, October 3, 2001 found the District back in Superior Court following last week’s appearance. Judge Fortunato ordered the operators of Main Street Mobile, 24 North Main Street, Pascoag, to drill at least 5, and up to 11, new test wells off their property to determine how far a gasoline leak at the station has spread.
The station, one of two sites being eyed as the possible source of the MTBE contamination affecting Pascoag’s two wells, is located approximately 1,700 feet northeast of the station.
The contamination affects 1,200 district customers – approximately 4,000 people. Early in September MTBE levels were confirmed by the Department of Health in excess of 350 ppb in samples taken at both Well 3 and Well 3A. Customers of Pascoag Water Department have been advised not to drink the water and to limit their exposure to it.
Last week RIDEM and the Attorney General’s office took the station’s operators, Potter Oil Inc and Medea LLC, to court, charging that they were not doing enough to investigate and clean up the gasoline spill.
At that time, Judge Fortunato refused to order the operators to install further test wells as the state was requesting. He asked all parties to return this week for an update.
On October 3rd, a consultant for the gasoline station reported to the judge that a pump at the North Main Street site continues to remove raw gasoline from the groundwater, and two test wells had been drilled into bedrock below the property. One of these bedrock wells turned up components of gasoline, including MTBE and benzene, the consultant stated.
Richard Hittinger, consultant for the station, and President of Alliance Environmental Group, recommended that the station install three more test wells to investigate off-site groundwater contamination. Two of the test wells would be installed to the east of the property, and one into the sewer line that runs down North Main Street in front of the station.
A state engineer working to address the water contamination situation testified that those plans did not go far enough. Patrick Hogan, the engineer, expressed his belief that the equipment that Alliance planned to use would only be a waste of time because it could not drill a well into the layers of bedrock that lie just below the surface of the ground in the area.
Hogan stated that deeper bedrock wells are required to determine where the gasoline or gasoline components might migrate. His recommendation was to install two wells to the north to determine if contamination is flowing in that direction.
Judge Fortunato agreed with the state, setting up a tiered system to outline how the testing will proceed.
The judge ordered Potter and Medea to start by installing the three test wells they had planned. In addition, he ordered that the two wells recommended by Hogan also be installed. The judge’s decision also stated that four of those wells should be into bedrock, with the fifth into the sewer bed. The fifth well will not require drilling into bedrock.
If these test wells find contamination, Judge Fortunato stated that Potter and Medea would have to drill an additional three wells further out. If those additional wells find contamination, another three wells will be necessary.
When the test drilling is completed, the judge will bring all parties back into court for further discussion.