PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The General Electric Company (GE) has submitted design plans with a revised final permit for the Housatonic “Rest of River”, which is yet to be assessed by the Environmental Appeals Board (EPA).

A 10-year contamination cleanup plan has been ongoing for the 150-mile river that connects Massachusetts to Connecticut. There are 20 contaminated areas outside the river that have already been cleaned up, and the first two miles of the Housatonic River are complete.

The report includes additional information that has become available in the last 14 years. This comes in accordance with the settle agreement and carrying out the supplemental Phase 1A CRA activities from the work plan.

It implies the post-site control activities like inspection, monitoring, and maintenance activities at these cleanups, that GE conducts. In the recently issued Supplemental Phase, 1A CRA report activities are further described, results are shown, and the next steps in the cultural resources investigation process for the ROR area were shown. Specific locations were addressed that could be potentially remediated, along with the roads and staging areas to have access.

A revised Archaelogical APE is to show areas that could possibly be affected and those that won’t be. Structural resources and nearby historic areas are indicated in the report, which Historic Architectural APE will utilize next.

All archaeological sites, historic infrastructure, and historic structures were identified to eventually be used with environmental data and historic background research. Like idealizing a geomorphological analysis of the floodplain landforms to distinguish between age and integrity.

Since, from a historical standpoint, land clearing and cultivation of newly cleared lands have increased the volume of runoff before, particularly in the nineteenth century. The sediment found in the runoff contributed to erosional and depositional features in the floodplain.

A floodplain that is seen from the north end of the RoR down to New Lenox Road is one example of a historical area as it has Native American archaeological sites. Another example of a historic area is from Woods Pond Dam to the Mass Turnpike there are dam remnants, an extensive location within the 19th century. Mills, iron and glass furnaces were found in this location.

Rising Pond which extends from the Park Street Bridge in Housatonic to the Rising Pond Dam shows no recorded areas of historicness, but there is potential for containing such sites. The eastern and southern margins of Woods Pond have some sensitivity for historic period sites.

The most spotted areas to have historical activity are Lenox Dale, Lee, South Lee, Glendale, and Housatonic.

All sites with historic backgrounds include the following:

  • Floodplain from the north end of the RoR down to the New Lenox Road in Lenox
  • The confluence of the West and East Branches and the confluence of the Housatonic with Sackett Brook
  • Holmes Road west of the floodplain and south of where Holmes Road crosses the river includes historic structures like the estate of Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Crossroads of Lenox Station that lies west of the south end of Woods Pond, and the NRHP-listed Lenox Train Station
  • Woods Pond Dam to Rising Pond
  • Woods Pond Dam to the Columbia Mill Dam in Lee
  • Woods Pond Dam to the Mass Turnpike
  • Between the Turnpike and South Lee
  • Bidwell Park in Stockbridge and extending downstream to the Glendale North Road bridge
  • Community of Glendale
  • The river traverses an extensive section of historic paper mills from Lenox Dale to Housatonic
  • NRHP-listed historic district lining Pleasant Street along the north side of the river in South Lee
  • Park Street Bridge in Housatonic to the Rising Pond Dam
  • Within the village of Housatonic: Own Paper Company had a complex of mills and other structures along the river
  • A residential neighborhood associated with Rising Paper Mill on Park Street along the east side of Rising Pond

While New Lenox Road down to the head of Woods Pond has no recorded sites. The chances for historic areas between South Lee and Stockbridge are much smaller. The broad section of floodplain between Lee and South Lee is also limited on historic sites due to no water-powered industry and sparser settlement.

Additional data is to be obtained, which will depend on specific locations of remediation activities in certain areas.

These locations are unknown but are to consist of (the Reach SB and SC channels, Reach SA and SB riverbanks, backwaters, Wood Pond and Rising Pond, floodplain areas, and vernal pools). Other locations will consist of access roads and staging areas.

Additional Phase 1 field investigations will be focused on the subject to or affected by remediation or support activities for an RU. There will be a determination of whether it will impact potential cultural resources.

According to the report, some other key investigations will be the following:

  • Refine and field test the sensitivity models
  • Determine whether archaeological or historic resources are actually present in areas of high
    potential that are targeted for remediation
  • Evaluate whether any archaeological or historic resources present are potentially significant
    (i.e., potentially eligible for inclusion on the NRHP)
  • Determine whether the remediation could have an adverse effect on any such potentially
    significant resources.
  • Floodplain or riverbank areas with known cultural resources;
  • Floodplain or riverbank areas with high potential but no recorded resources;
  • River channel areas with high potential; and
  • Areas of known or suspected historic structures within a Historic Architectural APE.

If after assessments are complete and there are any remediation or support activities that result in any adverse effects on archaeological or historic resources, additional information will need to be provided. GE is to prepare and submit a Phase 2 CRA Work Plan next. The public is able to submit form comments to R1Housatonic@epa.gov up until December 8.

A final cleanup decision from EPA will be made on the outcome of the appeals, but if the current EPA cleanup plan is upheld then it could lead to another 13 years of active remediation. Remediations occur 1 to 2 years after the appeals are resolved.