June 20, 2018

Devens operators sued for allegedly polluting Nashua River

Grant Welker
Devens marked its 100th anniversary last year.

The Conservation Law Foundation is suing the Devens Enterprise Commission and MassDevelopment for what it calls pollution of the Nashua River and runoff water coming from the former Fort Devens Army Base.

In a Tuesday press release, the environmental advocacy law group said the site has been discharging harmful pollutants into the river in violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

According to CLF, pollutants include perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, which can be dangerous for pregnant women and newborns. Other alleged pollutants include petroleum hydrocarbons, nitrogen and metals.

Stormwater discharge permits, which are legally required, were not obtained or even applied for, Boston-based CLF argues in its lawsuit filed in a Massachusetts federal court.

"Devens is recognized across the nation as a leading example of low impact, environmentally sensitive redevelopment techniques," said Kelsey Abbruzzese, spokeswoman for MassDevelopment, which operates the Devens site in Ayer, Harvard and Shirley. "MassDevelopment has already filed a notice of intent with the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] to be covered by the EPA's proposed permit covering stormwater discharges."

Christopher Kilian, vice president of strategic litigation at CLF, said developers of the Devens site have failed to comply with water pollution control programs in the largest development plan ever conceived in Massachusetts.

"The discharge of harmful pollutants from this site is degrading the Nashua River and putting the health and safety of nearby residents at risk," Kilian said in a press release. "The owners of the site have ignored the law, and it's time they are held accountable."

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