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Friday, October 16, 2009

Pan Am gets OK on project near pond

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After allegedly failing to follow environmental regulations for a construction site in Ayer, Mass., Pan Am Railways was found to be in compliance at a Suffolk Superior Court hearing, the Worcester Telegram reports.

The attorney general's office had accused Pan Am of beginning work on a site in Ayer without submitting the required reports to the Department of Environmental Protection. The railroad company started submitting reports to DEP Oct. 9, said Jill Butterworth, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. "They are currently in compliance," she said.

As part of a joint venture with Norfolk Southern, Pan Am, based in North Billerica, is building an $8-million auto distribution facility in Ayer. The site is near Spectacle Pond, which provides about 60 percent of the town's water supply.

A 2003 court decision says Pan Am Southern is allowed to develop the site, but it must comply with a set of regulations, including establishing a stormwater plan and installing a network of monitoring wells. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board upheld that decision in March.

According to a motion filed by the attorney general's office, on or about Sept. 17 Pan Am Southern began paving the off-loading facility in Ayer without revising Environmental Management System reports; without submitting a design for or installing a geomembrane layer under the planned locomotive area, which would catch oil spills from locomotives and ensure that oil doesn't contaminate the nearby pond; and without demonstrating compliance with the requirements for a satisfactory stormwater system.

Cynthia Scarano, a spokeswoman for Pan Am, said yesterday's hearing went well, and Pan Am has completed the items the judge was waiting for. That includes training employees to respond to oil spills, she said.

In a previous memo, the attorney general's office said Pan Am has a history of violating environmental laws.

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