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WEYMOUTH, MA-A small landfill on the 1,450-acre former Naval Air Station here is becoming the focus of a growing controversy between local residents and the Navy as well as the South Shore Tri Town Development Corp. While the development corporation and the Navy insist that the landfill has received a clean bill of health, local residents want more done to insure that they are safe.

The approximately three-acre landfill is part of the first section of land the development firm, which is in charge of redeveloping the base, is preparing to purchase from the Navy. The project to redevelop the base, which includes a retail area, seniors housing, open space with playing fields and a golf course, is scheduled to be built in phases. This first parcel of land would figure in the preliminary stages of redevelopment and reportedly would host the seniors housing units.

According to Steven Ivas, environmental consultant to the developer, the Navy deemed the landfill, which was a Superfund site, as clean, requiring no further clean-up. Ivas does tell GlobeSt.com that some thallium was found in the groundwater but he says that the Navy will go back and check that out within the year.

“The people here want the landfill taken away,” notes Ivas, “but under Superfund requirements, the Navy does not need to do that.” Ivas adds that the state EPA signed off on the site, stating that no further action is required.

Still, selectmen in Rockland voted recently to send a letter requesting that the Navy remove the landfill before it is given back to the town. Reportedly, the development corporation’s executive director Kenneth Goff has stated that he would be willing to compromise on such issues as combining the three landfills on the base into one that would be capped.

But the Department of Environmental Protection has not yet made a decision on the site, and Ivas points out that it could take up to four years for the DEP and the Navy to come to an agreement. “They fear there’s something there that we haven’t found,” says Ivas. “But in my professional opinion there isn’t anything.”

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