The Town continues to make progress is several areas of environmental compliance. Over the past year, the Environmental Compliance Officer (the “ECO”), hired in February of 2002 as a result of an enforcement action taken against the town by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) in November of 2001, continues to work with town departments on various environmental projects and environmental compliance matters.
The Town has just completed the third and final year of its enforcement action with EPA and has met all the compliance schedules and expenditure requirements contained in the EPA enforcement action. In addition, the Town initiated 28 Pollution Prevention projects (the “P2 projects”) over the three year life of the EPA enforcement action. Many of the P2 projects produced significant environmental benefits. Some of the more notable benefits realized over the three year life of the EPA enforcement action, include:
· the reuse of 1000 tons of street sweepings, annually;
· the annual reduction of junk mail received by the Clerk’s Office by 90%;
· the reuse or recycling of 5,500 old books and magazines previously discarded by the Library, annually;
· the reduction of the amount of chemicals purchased and discarded by the High School, annually;
· the reduction of the total number of different cleaning products containing toxic constituents used by Town Departments by 40%;
· the reduction of the amount of virgin white paper used by the copy center in Town Hall by increasing duplex copies by 85%;
· the increase in the annual recycling rate of paper and cardboard at the Library by 200%;
· the increase in the annual recycling rate of paper and cardboard in schools and town buildings by 20% and 100%, respectively;
· the reduction in the amount of paint used by the School Department, annually;
· the increase in the Town-wide annual recycling rate by 20%;
· the elimination of two hazardous waste streams generated by Public Works (spent antifreeze and spent cleaning solvent);
Over the last year, the Town is also looking to improve its use of energy and reduce its production of “greenhouse gasses” (carbon dioxide, methane, and oxides of nitrogen) by joining national initiatives. The Town is now affiliated with the Cities for Climate Change Initiative and has joined the EPA Energy Star Program. Both programs will help the Town develop and implement plans to improve energy efficiency and reduce the production of gases responsible for Global Warming in Town operations.
Also looking to the future, the Town is developing a management strategy to help it stay in compliance with environmental requirements, protect the safety of its employees and continuously improving the Natick environment. This management strategy was initiated at the Springvale Water Treatment Plant in 2003. It’s called Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and the Town is using the ISO 14001 EMS standard (commonly used in business) to develop its EMS. The Springvale EMS is 85% complete and the Water Department is planning to get it certified by an independent third party auditor to the ISO standard over the next year. Presently, other town operations are being considered for EMS development.
The Town saved significant costs associated with these projects. Over the last year the implementation of the 28 P2 projects resulted in an estimated cost savings to the Town of approximately $140,000, with most of the cost savings resulting from the successful Pay-As-You-Throw project started in July of 2003. Much of the realized cost savings comes from avoided disposal cost of solid and hazardous wastes.
Finally, the Town continues to integrate environmental compliance in its operations and it continues to close-out as clean Town owned properties contaminated with fuel oil. Compliance audits are completed weekly at the DPW yard on West Street to check compliance with appropriate Air Quality, Hazardous Waste and Clean Water requirements. Of the original 19 Town owned oil tank sites only 3 sites remain in the regulatory clean-up process and these are in the monitoring phase of clean-up.