Recently Ashland Citizens Action Committee (ACAC) met with a company called Citizens Energy for the second time regarding placing solar panels on the Nyanza site. About a year ago, they reached out to our group to hear our thoughts on placing solar panels on the aging cap. We voiced our concerns about the integrity of the cap, how Ashland will benefit from the solar panels, and how we can insure safety for the town of Ashland.
According to their website: Founded in 2010, Citizens Solar has become one of the largest solar developers in the state of Massachusetts. As of 2013, Citizens Solar completed the construction of a $50 million portfolio of nine distributed solar projects totaling over 18 megawatts.Citizens Solar works with a diverse array of government and private sector entities to develop solar sites, allowing our partners to save on electricity costs while contributing clean and green energy to the grid.
While these are all laudable qualities, ACAC still has questions:
1. Who is responsible if there is a problem with the cap?
2. What is the contingency plan if the cap fails?
3. Who is benefitting from this plan?
4. How much will Ashland get back in affordable energy?
As part of Ashland's commitment to maintain the cleanup efforts of the Super Fund site and to oversee any future development on or near the land associated with Nyanza, the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board are conducting a peer site review of the project. This review is done by people with a similar level of competence to the original review writer. It's a great way to self regulate work by partnering with qualified members of a certain group, and the process helps groups maintain standards of quality, improved performance and credibility.
Are you interested in hearing more about this? Please reach out to us, the town, or attend any of the publicly open meetings at Town Hall. Here are the next few meetings that will address this topic:
*June 25: Conservation Commission 7-9pm Town Hall
*June 26: Nyanza Advisory Committee 7 pm Town Hall
ACAC will have representatives at each of these meetings, but welcomes any resident of Ashland that would like to learn more about this venture.
Dear Ashland Community,
The Ashland Memorial Healing Garden has been created thanks to the dedication and hard work of Dan Borelli, an artist and Ashland High School graduate. The garden was created in memory of all lives lost to cancer due to pollution caused by Nyanza, a toxic superfund site in our town. Among those doomed were classmates of Dan. The garden’s concept arose from Dan’s Harvard University Master’s Degree in Art, Design & the Public Domain Thesis Project, from 2010-2012.
Construction of the Healing Garden is being realized through volunteer work, especially the tremendous commitment of workers from the New England Laborers Training Academy under the direction of Jamie Merloni and Art Place of America and the National Endowment of the Arts: Our Town Program concluding in 2016, funded the initial phase of the project. Nyanza has created a negative impact on our community and the garden will offer a place of reflection, respect, peace, and healing to those affected by the losses of loved ones.
The Garden is located on the MBTA access road off of RT.135 behind the Ashland Middle School. We are in the final phase of completion, and your donations will be used to fund all of the plantings for the garden this spring. We thank you in advance for your support! Your donation is key to making the final touches possible.
You may donate online, or make checks payable to “The Arts Company”.
Your donation is tax deductible 501(c) 3 .
We eagerly await your anticipated response.
“Gold” donations-$250 or more will have an engraved paver stone with your name or Company’s name located within a flower bed at the garden.
Please make checks payable/mailed to :
The Arts Company, Inc.
43 Linnaean St., Suite 25.
Cambridge, MA 02138
All online donations can be made on the following link:
With warmest regards,
The Ashland Memorial Healing Garden Members
Nyanza still making the news but this time in a positive way
On February 15, 2018 an article was written about Dan Borelli and his use of art and color to bring attention to the Nyanza dye factory and the impact it had on the town of Ashland. Click on the link below to check out the article that was posted on Atlas Obscura.
Update on the Nyanza Advisory Committee
The Nyanza Advisory Committee has been working hard to keep Nyanza at the forefront of conversations about future building downtown. They have created a map of a groundwater border that encompasses streets and houses within this plume. They are in the process of creating a bylaw in order to help control the impact the contaminated groundwater has on the public. If you are interested in the wording of the bylaw, the proposed map of groundwater border, and the EPA involvement you can find the minutes of the meeting here:
January 29, 2018
February 15, 2018
UMASS Dartmouth Partnership
Dan Borelli, member of ACAC and creator of the Ashland Healing Garden gave a talk hosted by Whitewall and Lexus on 'Art Transforming Communities' at the Faena Screening Room in Miami in early December.
He has also partnered with UMASS Dartmouth to create a curriculum for Ashland Public Schools regarding the history of Nyanza, the impact on the town of Ashland, and the Healing Garden. He will be working with Cathy Smilan, Ed.D. Professor and MAE Graduate Program Director. He will partner with her Fall 2018 course Community Partnership to create lesson plans.
Senator Karen Spilka
On October 18, 2017 Senator Karen Spilka joined our ACAC Meeting to hear about our efforts in cleaning up the Nyanza site. She attended the Walking Tour, led by Dan Borelli, and was impressed with our progress and future plans for making sure the site was fully remediated. We are pleased to announce that Senator Spilka has agreed to match any donations up to $1000 in order to help with the restoration and maintenance of The Healing Garden. Information on how you can donate to this cause will be coming shortly.
Fox 25 News did a piece last night on the vandalism that occurred at our Ashland Memorial Healing Garden. Please take a minute to check out this video that aired on Fox News. And SHARE!! Please! We want more and more people to know about this. Not only because it's a beautiful and calming space to reflect, but because it was damaged and we're trying to fix it. Join us in our fight to keep this town safe, clean and caring.
On October 13, 1988 Senator Kennedy visited the Nyanza SuperFund site along with the Director of the EPA(?) in order to gain information about the planned cleanup. Senator Kennedy was instrumental in helping to get funds released to clean up this site. He states that "this is not the job of the community, this is a state and federal job". It was important for Ashland residents to know that the Senator was behind us and that he deemed this site to be of the utmost importance.
25 years later, Nyanza is still not fully cleaned up. Only Phase 1 was completed. We know there is more work to be done and we hope we can have another state representative be a key factor in helping the EPA finish the job that they started. In their own words, "No one wants this cleaned up more than the EPA."
The above video was edited for time. To watch the video in its entirety please click the link below.
A few weeks ago there was a forum on the Howe Street Solar Project and a lot of updates were given. We heard a great briefing from friend Rob Moolenbeek and he allowed us to share. Let us know what you think!
"The two things noteworthy were that the big (one year) delay resulted from the discovery of the methane buildup under the cap and the EPA forced the town to come up with a plan to resolve that. That has now been resolved (19 deep venting wells).
Also the connection plan to Eversource has gone through multiple proposals and has yet to be approved. The connection will now be made off-site on a small piece of private land. (an issue of zoning and the proper approval process was brought up). There is still continued opposition from them and the abutters to the Solar Farm at Howe St.
This connection plan, which will require 2-4 telephone poles was one of the two contentious issues with the many abutters that showed up. They were not happy and complained that this was not mentioned earlier.
The second major issue was the berm. The berm plan (6 ft with 10 ft mixed vegetation), which sounded good was approved by the planning board but Ameresco will not implement it until the connection plan has been approved by Eversource. This created more friction with the abutters, who felt they have waited long enough and want to have it implemented now
Overall now the plan is to have the Solar Farm on line in the fall as long as Eversource approves the connection plan. That latest plan was submitted July 12."
Check out the documents below to learn more about the history of Nyanza and why ACAC got invloved.
Who is Citizens Energy Corporation?
Citizens Energy Corporation is a non-profit organization that leases land and builds solar farms. These solar farms generate energy on the grid that Citizens can sell at cheaper prices through Power Purchase Agreements, Net-metering Credit Sales Agreements. These credits or purchase agreements are usually used for low income housing.
What does Citizens Energy Corporation want to do in Ashland?
Citizens Energy Corporation has proposed to build a solar panel farm on top of the Nyanza Superfund Cap Site. This cap holds Over 45,000 tons of chemical sludge that was buried on the Nyanza site. The Cap was given a lifespan of 30 years. It is 28 years old now.
Where is the Nyanza Superfund Site
The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump is located on Megunko Road in Ashland, Massachusetts. The site was formerly the location of the Nyanza Chemical Company which operated a dye manufacturing facility at the property from 1965 to 1978. The Nyanza site is located in the central section of Ashland in a largely residential area. Chemical sludges generated by the dye manufacturing process were disposed of on an area of high ground referred to as, "Megunko Hill".
How does this benefit Ashland?
Although the Solar Panel farm that is proposed to be built on the Nyanza Superfund Site will generate credits and electricity on the grid, as of right now theses credits will not be used for Ashland. In order for Ashland to use this energy we will have to apply for it and hope we meet the requirements.