Board of Health Meeting of March 5, 2024: New Director, Battery Storage, and Wastewater Treatment

March 14, 2024

The March 5 Board of Health Meeting convened at 7:30 PM in Room 9 of the Acton Town Hall. Present for the meeting were Chair Mark Conoby and Members Bill McInnis and Bill Taylor (by remote Zoom). Staff present for the meeting were Interim Health Director Matt Dow, Health Inspector Felix Garcia, and newly appointed Health Director Penny Funaiole. In addition, Select Board Liaison Alissa Nicol was in attendance.

Penny Funaiole was introduced as the new Health Director, starting her duties on March 4. Funaiole comes to Acton with previous experience in the City of Medford and with fifteen years of experience in public health.

(IMAGE: Penny Funaiole picture awaiting photo credit)

Funaiole thanked the Board, noting the honor of having received this position. Funaiole said she was excited to be part of the organization and was impressed with the camaraderie of the town staff. She has had previous experience on the human services side of the work as the prevention outreach manager for the City of Medford and looks forward to supporting residents in substance use, mental health, and housing issues. She hopes to better understand the septic and environmental health issues in Acton as compared to Medford’s sewer and environmental issues.

Chair Conoby said the Board’s priorities for the new director are: budget and staff; collaboration with different departments; working with the Water District, in particular on the impact of the W.R. Grace superfund site on water quality; awareness that a great percentage of the town has septic systems–and sorting related problems; and providing the Board with short- and long-term goals.

Interim Director Dow provided updates on the Health and Nursing Departments

·  Two Household Hazardous Waste Days have been scheduled, for Saturday, June 1, 9:00 to 11:30 AM and Tuesday, September 24, 4:00 to 6:30 PM. Both of those events will take place at the Department of Public Works.

·  A letter was sent to homeowners who have not pumped their septic tanks in the last two years. The Health Department has been receiving many calls of residents confirming that they have pumped. This is an indicator that the Septage Haulers are not reporting their activity to the Health Department. The Department will be following up with the haulers to ensure that they are reporting and acquiring the proper permits.

·  Benchmark Senior Living had two Covid cases since the last Board of Health meeting and no cases were reported from the LifeCare facility.

·  In the past two weeks, thirty-four cases of flu were reported, and 20 cases of Covid.

Hazardous Materials Control Permit

Margaret O’Brien and Scott Buchanan appeared before the Board regarding a Hazardous Materials Control permit for the installation of a proposed 1.2 megawatt (MW) direct current (DC) / 500 kilowatt (KW) alternating current (AC) ground-mounted solar array integrated with a 2 megawatt hours (MWh) DC coupled battery energy storage system. The proposed project is located on a five-acre parcel at 55 Knox Trail. The parcel is owned by NextGrid, Inc. Mike Pattison from NextGrid joined the meeting by Zoom.

Following the presentation, the Board asked clarifying questions:

·  Is this an undeveloped parcel? Correct. The site will be an unmanned facility. The contractor will be visiting the site every six months to perform service.

·  Where will the transformer be located? That will be in the southern portion of the property. There will be approximately two hundred gallons of mineral oil in this transformer and the mineral oil comes prepackaged in the transformer. Oil will be contained in a double-walled tank within the transformer, and the transformer will be located on the impermeable path.

·  Where will the batteries for the solar array be located? They will be sitting on an impermeable concrete pad. Each battery cell has 1.9 lbs of lithium-ion electrolyte fluid. There are ten cells within each battery module, and there will be 34 battery modules within each battery rack.

·  Will there be a fire suppression system? Suppressive material will be stored on site.

·  Fire is one of the Board’s bigger concerns. Will your system notify the fire department? The system will be hooked up with a networking operating center, which will remotely monitor and notify the fire department in case of an emergency.

·  Will there be intrusion alarms? No, there’s no intrusion alarm, but the entire site is surrounded by a seven-foot fence, and then each of the cabinets is also individually locked.

·  Will the facility be protected from unauthorized vehicles? We can look at a design putting a bollard system around the pads.

·  Will you perform a baseline survey of sound at the site before everything is installed? That will be looked at.

The Board closed the hearing in anticipation of additional materials being provided.

Article 16 Variance – Dover Heights

Dave Formato from On-Site Engineering appeared before the Board requesting an Article 16 (Minimum Requirements for Resource Protection, Waste Materials Management and Activities Within Surface and Groundwater Protection Zones, in the Acton Board of Health Rules and Regulations) variance for the reconstruction of a wastewater system at Dover Heights apartment complex on Central Street. As the wastewater discharge is greater than 10,000 gallons per day the owners (NFMU DHA, LLC) were required to get a groundwater discharge permit from the State. That permit was issued, but the State determined that the facility was grandfathered. Based on that the State did not require a Treatment Plant but instead determined to apply the standards of Title 5 for their approval. The variance requested was to waive the local standard of tertiary treatment within an aquifer zone.

The Board was concerned about the impact of untreated wastewater and the assertion that a Treatment Plant was not economically viable. Based on this issue, the Board moved to continue the hearing to allow the petitioner to address the environmental and economic impacts of the project.

92B Willow Street Update

Dow reported that the owners of92B Willow contacted Town Counsel last week to report that they have no update from the Housing Court Judge on their pending motion. The owners will provide the Board an update from the Housing Court as soon as it is available.

March 5th meeting materials

DK Halley was Acton’s Health Director from 1987 to 2015 and is the Board of Health “beat reporter” for the Acton Exchange.


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