When a community houses a highly contaminated site that is likely to need an expensive, complicated cleanup, it often turns to the federal government to enlist the property on the Superfund list. The Massachusetts town of Hanover is doing just the opposite, in spite of the fact that its National Fireworks site is almost sure to make the grade.
According to the the Chris Burrell of Patriot Ledger, “More than six decades of munitions manufacturing and testing at a factory that armed the U.S. military during four wars has polluted a 280-acre site in Hanover with enough mercury, lead and other chemicals to make it a sure-fire candidate for a high-ranking, federal Superfund site.”
Why might a small town of 14,000 residents not want to seek the federal assistance afforded by the Superfund program? Hanover is a picturesque little New England town, chock-full of history and charm. As stated on the town’s website, Hanover-Ma.gov, “Hanover was established in 1727, a little over 100 years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, 17 miles to our south. We have maintained our ‘country town’ atmosphere over the years, yet combined it with the convenience of shopping malls, light industry, and, of course, technology.”
In other words, Hanover is an attractive location and Superfund sites tend to bring an unwelcome toxic stigma to an area. Put eloquently by town administrator Troy Clarkson, “The town’s interest is in revitalizing the area and that designation is not conducive to revitalization.”
Town officials are piecing together a remediation plan for the land pollution that includes funds from three parties responsible for the contamination and $950,000 that was won in a bankruptcy settlement with another now-defunct polluter.
Although the National Fireworks munitions site contains enough hazardous waste materials to be designated as a Tier 1A, the most ecologically harmful, the selectmen of Hanover feel the damage to property values and environmental stigma are not worth labeling the site a Superfund property.