DEVENS — Acting as Board of Health (BOH), the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) approved a site assignment and order of conditions for W. K. Macnamara Corp., bringing the firm’s plans for a recycling facility one step closer to reality.
Company President Kurt Macnamara needs to acquire a unified permit from the DEC, the multi-role permitting authority for the Devens Enterprise Zone. He also needs solid waste management permits from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) before construction on the facility can begin. It would be a 90,000 square-foot processing facility for construction and demolition material built on Independence Drive.
“All right, you’ve got yourself a site. Welcome to Devens,” said DEC President William Marshall.
The approval carries with it 29 conditions listed within a 16-page site assignment decision. Macnamara has filed an objection to consideration of DEC site suitability criteria, which was overruled by the DEC. The objection was noted but not discussed prior to the vote.
DEC member Lisa McLaughlin asked why delivering railroad cars used to carry waste from the site are not subject to the 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday delivery schedule. Lowitt said Guilford Rail told him its schedule varies. That means rail cars could be sited on the rail spur Macnamara plans to build at any time during the day or night.
“Empty or full cars?” asked DEC Chairman William Marshall.
It could be either, said Lowitt.
The newest DEC member, John Knowles, of Harvard, asked for clarification about incoming waste. He thought it would be company-oriented and pre-checked material.
The facility will be open to all communities, said Lowitt. For example, Harvard residents would bring their small loads of construction/demolition waste to a site in Harvard and the town would transport it to Devens.
“Yes, we’re trying to prevent the pick-up truck approach,” he said.
If the unified permit is approved, Macnamara will construct the 90,000-square-foot material processing plant, an office and education center with associated parking spaces and the railroad spur. The facility can receive up to 1,500 tons of material per day from Devens and the surrounding towns.
The material — wood, asphalt shingles, corrugated paper, metals, brick and concrete — would be sorted and recycled at Devens.
“Kurt Macnamara and I have been quite cognizant of people’s concerns,” he said. “We don’t want to diminish them. We want to help put people’s fears to rest.”
People are not always best satisfied with technical analyses because they get complicated, said Frecker. Technical consultant Volmer Associates has looked at several locations near Bates Road and even modeled truck noise to determine the impact on residents. Volume could be as much as one truck every two minutes at times.
There is not much concern about dust, he said, and a dispersion model resulted in negligible impact on ambient air quality beyond current standards.
“We recognized (that) people would have these concerns, and we wanted to be sure our design would protect and shield them,” he said. “One of the important aspects of the design is to minimize (the) breakage of material because it is easier to move big chunks around.
“Some material will be crushed before coming in,” Frecker said. “Although that’s not a design Macnamara has embraced. The only grinding would be wood into wood chips that will be carried away for use as fuel.
“This is by far the most regulated of activities, and we’ve been going through the MEPA (Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency) site assignment process for a year-and-a-half.
“Last fall, new regulations prevented wood and metal, etc., from going into landfills. Right now its only facilities like this that provide a place to go and where material can be re-used,” Frecker said. “It’s amazing how rapidly recycling uses are being identified and permitted.”
Frecker said Macnamara hopes to file an application for a unified permit soon, said Frecker, and he is hoping for a hearing date in March or early April. Public announcements will be made when a date is chosen.