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Proposed Asphalt Plant Review Continues

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Playing catchup from a series of snow storms that cancelled several meetings over the last few weeks, Monday night saw the Planning Board renewed its analysis of the proposed asphalt plant just off Groton Road.

This latest chapter took a look at fire-related and life safety issues, such as a 265 gallon “foam truck” to be located on site in case of any fires at the proposed Newport Materials facility.

The truck would be made available to the fire department for use at the site or elsewhere in town as needed, with additional foam materials to be provided by Newport at the Fire Department’s facilities elsewhere in town.

Additional first responders may also be summoned to the facility during situations where individuals on site may suffer injuries.

Neighbors in the audience expressed a variety of concerns ranging from fears of particulates stemming from fires to clarification on the proposed facilities’ 14 separate automated safety shutdown systems.

Newport Materials attorney Douglas Deschenes told the Planning Board that his client will hold itself responsible for holding high safety standards at the site, saying that they would maintain safety equipment no differently than area residents would maintain upkeep of their own residences.

Groton Road resident Marie Burham disagreed with this assessment after the meeting, believing that the facility would have to be held accountable through frequent inspections.

“You go onto an elevator, it’s reviewed for safety. You go into a restaurant and someone from the health department checked for rat droppings. If they find rat droppings, the restaurant won’t shut itself down,” said Burnham.

A 2009 memorandum from Westford Fire Department Lieutenant Donald Parsons recently updated required a number of conditions in addition to the foam truck including fire department emergency access to cisterns on the site, fire training for employees, and strict regulations for confined spaces just to name a few.

Planning Board audience on March 2, 2015
Planning Board audience on March 2, 2015

Prior to the discussion on fire and life safety, the Planning Board decided to take no action regarding proposals for additional peer review services relating to the site’s proposed power supply.

Deschenes told the board his client did not want to pay for additional power studies, stating that the plant would be run entirely by commercial electricity, with a natural gas backup when commercial electricity was not available.

Additional discussions on sound attenuation fences as well as recent traffic studies are expected at future meetings on March 16 and 23, with a private site walk by the Planning Board expected for March 14.

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