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Public meeting on General Chemical cleanup to be held tonight

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  April 4, 2013 10:30 AM

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Framingham officials will hold a public meeting tonight about the cleanup of the former General Chemical site on Leland Street after a group of local residents petitioned the state for the public to be involved in the process.

The New Jersey-based General Chemical Corp. filed a notice of closure for its 2-acre Framingham facility on Leland Street on March 1 last year, following years of complaints from Framingham residents and officials about potential health hazards from the vicinity.

Tonight's meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson School, will provide residents an update on the site's cleanup and will discuss how to keep them involved as the process moves forward.

Members of the local group Framingham Action Coalition for Environmental Safety, or "FACES," filed a petition with the state to be more involved, called a Public Involvement Plan, said Ethan Mascoop, Framingham's Board of Health director.

"When you involve the public, you raise the awareness of what and how you're doing," Mascoop said. "By doing that, it's possible the public might come up with other ideas or thoughts or concerns the experts haven’t thought of, or that there might be different ways of doing things."

Mascoop said it was impossible to define how long the cleanup would take or what it would entail, as workers are still fairly early in the process.

"There is still not really a full complete understanding and awareness of how far the contamination has gone," Mascoop said. "Once you figure that out, that brings up another question: how clean is clean? For example, if you have a 10-room house and you hire me to clean it, I don’t know my cleanup strategy because you could be a hoarder, or you could keep it clean."

Mascoop said he encourages all local residents to attend the meeting.

"This cleanup won't happen overnight, but it's a lot better when people participate than when they don’t," he said.

General Chemical is required to pay for all costs associated with cleanup, and state environment officials oversaw an initial two-week cleanup late last summer.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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