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Housatonic River Initiative to hire technical advisor as toxic waste remediation plan moves forward

The winning applicant will be tasked with reviewing technical design and implementation documents as well as site data and data-gathering techniques, work plans, sampling plans, health assessments, and other documents surrounding the cleanup.

Lee — With about $23,000 in grant funds, local group Housatonic River Initiative (HRI) is currently seeking a technical advisor with the ability to assist members in reviewing and analyzing documents related to efforts to clean up the Housatonic River, a waterway that was made toxic following the decades-long deposit of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by General Electric Company from its Pittsfield plant.

The funds stem from a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency in the late-1990s or early 2000s, with additional sums added to the account over the years, said Interim Executive Director of Citizens for PCB Removal Charles Cianfarini. Cianfarini, along with HRI Executive Director Tim Gray, Lee resident Anne Langlois, and Judith Herkimer of the Housatonic Environmental Action League, has been working with EPA officials to develop the post.

Per the proposal notice, the contract for employment will begin as soon as possible.

According to the solicitation document, the TAG funds can’t be used to reopen or challenge a final EPA decision, so the purview of the course of work will not entail proposing any alternative remedies to the current remediation plan that includes an Upland Disposal Facility slated for Lee. The winning applicant will be tasked with reviewing technical design and implementation documents as well as site data and data-gathering techniques, work plans, sampling plans, health assessments, and other documents surrounding the cleanup. Additionally, the contractor will be expected to attend meetings—regarding the Rest of River and public—to serve as a community resource and prepare reports, review plan comments, and make presentations as needed. The endeavor is timely given the UDF transportation plan is set to be released by GE on October 31 and the UDF design is anticipated in the beginning of 2024.

Finding the right individual or group for the job may be a challenge, Cianfarini said. “We’ve also done a lot of research out there to try to find people and organizations that should have this knowledge and we’ve reached out to them directly,” he said, adding that HRI has placed advertisements for the position in various New England area publications. “I’m excited to continue to keep our heads up and try to go forward and fight for human health and environmental protections.”

The position involves up to 225 hours of work spread out over three years, with applications from qualified firms or individuals due November 10 to Langlois, HRI’s TAG Administrator, P.O. Box 178, Lee, MA 01238. The link to the solicitation can be found here. Electronic submittals, preferred by HRI, can be sent to hritag1992@gmail.com.

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