Brendan Doherty’15, Staff Writer
Earlier this month on Fox News a story was reported about a concerned Andover resident, who discovered workers dumping sludge into a drain close to his home. The sludge made its way onto James Berberian’s property and made quite a mess. When he recorded what was happening with his camera he was approached by an employee and was asked why he was recording them, he stated his case and the worker replied that he had been dumping the sludge into that particular drain for years.
Berberian discovered a report dated 2010 stating the sludge contained levels of arsenic and was a “significant risk to human health.” He has since filed a federal lawsuit against Andover this past year. The town cleaned up Berberian’s property, but the issue still remains that the sludge potentially had enough time to seep into the grounds. This issue could potentially effect surrounding areas including Phillips Academy and possibly into the Shawsheen and Merrimack rivers.
In the first board of selectmen meeting he attended, Berberian attempted to bring up the issue but was denied a chance to speak. When the meeting was over, a FOX reporter attempted to speak to one of the selectmen, he referred them to speak to the town council but they had no comment either.
At the next meeting Berberian was allowed to speak but the selectmen read from a prepared statement saying that they were limited to what they could say due to the pending lawsuit, but they didn’t address the report of the significant health risk. They did however say that the drinking water was tested and is considered safe according to Massachusetts standards.
The report that was filed by the town said that the sludge was not the source of the contaminants and was not a risk to human health. However, CDM Smith did the report. The vice president of CDM Smith is a town official in Andover, raising a potential conflict of interest.
Only time will tell what the next steps of action will be. The Massachusetts DEP ordered the town to clean up Berberian’s property, who remains not satisfied with an earlier report from the town. They also stated that the toxic sludge is not a concern to the water supply as long as the sludge from the bottom of the tank doesn’t mix with the drinking water above it.