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Town officials in Lee, Mass., will meet with Sen. Warren's staff to discuss options to stop PCB dump

A "No PCB Dumps" sign in Lee, Massachusetts, where the EPA plans a disposal site for sediment containing PCBs, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen
/
NEPM
A "No PCB Dumps" sign in Lee, Massachusetts, where the EPA plans a disposal site for sediment containing PCBs, in a file photo.

Officials in Lee, Massachusetts plan to ask Sen. Elizabeth Warren's staff next week what she is doing to prevent the construction of a toxic waste disposal site in their town. The disposal site is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to clean up PCBs from the Housatonic River.

General Electric released PCBs into the river up until the 1970s while it manufactured electrical transformers at its former plant in Pittsfield.

Lee officials contacted Warren's office aftershe told NEPM in February that she is wrangling with the EPA over cleaning up the river without storing toxic waste near it.

Warren's office set up a meeting with the town, then canceled it, and according to town officials did not respond to repeated requests to reschedule.

On Wednesday town administrator Chris Brittain sent Warren a letter requesting a meeting and copied it to several news outlets.

"As of the date of this letter, the Town has still not received a reply to set a new meeting date," Brittain wrote in the letter.

A member of Warren's staff called him on Thursday morning and apologized for not getting back to the town sooner, which Brittain said he appreciated. Warren's office set up a meeting for next week with Brittain and Sean Regnier, chair of the Lee Select Board.

Brittain wants to find out if the PCB storage can be moved out of the Berkshires.

"We at least want to find out what, if anything, can be done at this point on a federal level."

The town recently filed a lawsuit against Bayer, the owner of Monsanto, which manufactured PCBs and sold them to General Electric.

A spokesperson from Warren's office emailed the following statement: "Senator Warren recognizes the community’s concerns about the EPA’s process to hold GE accountable for cleanup of the Housatonic River. Her office received the letter from Lee Town Administrator Brittain and scheduled a meeting to discuss this important issue in more detail."

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.