Select Board responds to Bliss Corner report
To the Editor:
We, the members of the Dartmouth Select Board, wish to respond to the August 6, 2019 (republished on August 15, 2019) New Bedford Standard-Times article that is headlined “Dartmouth knew Bliss Corner dumping was a problem, documents show.”
The Select Board is greatly concerned that this article does not paint a complete picture of either the historical context of these documents, or of the present actions of the Board, and of the Town staff in general, in responding to this situation. The article’s headline, in particular, is misleading, inducing anyone who merely glances at it to assume that some recent iteration of the Town’s government had had any actual prior knowledge of activities that are in fact decades old.
In reality, since this matter was first brought to the Select Board’s attention in January by MassDEP, the Town has worked diligently to search for any relevant documents and disclose them in order to assist MassDEP in its investigation. Hundreds of man-hours have been spent by many of the Town’s departments in undertaking this task.
The documents in question, which for the most part were discovered in the Town’s archived records vault and about which present Town employees and officials had been essentially unaware, detail historical activities only. In fact, the most recent document that your article even referenced was from 1963. The environmental and legal standards that were in place over 50 years ago were vastly different than they are today.
None the less, the Select Board’s utmost concern is the health and safety of the community. From the very beginning, the Select Board has made this issue a priority, and has worked vigorously with Town staff and MassDEP to move the investigation along as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
MassDEP is spearheading this investigation and they have a process in place to accomplish this monumental task. They have conducted one public hearing, and anticipate conducting another this fall, to keep the public informed of their investigation.
The Town will continue to work closely with MassDEP as this situation evolves, and the Select Board asks for the public’s patience as we absorb and review historical information that is just as new to us as it is to you.
Dartmouth Select Board