Stained water in  clear bottle from the channel 2002

Oh it's a mystery to me.
We have a greed, with which we have agreed...
and you think you have to want more than you need...
until you have it all, you won't be free.

Society, you're a crazy breed.
I hope you're not lonely, without me.

Society, have mercy on me.
I hope you're not angry, if I disagree.


Jerry Hannon

My experience with the contaminated Columbia Gas Plant site on the banks of the Salisbury Plain River behind Clinton St in the City of Brockton began in 2002. It is a story of gross pollution in an urban waterway and of corporate, regulatory and bureaucratic indifference/enablement which has allowed and may continue to allow this gross pollution to continue.

In 2002 I stopped by the Salisbury Plain River where it flows beneath Pine Ave. The river was running black like coal and smelling of the same. A short walk upstream revealed the source of the pollution, an old storm drain pouring into a channel which in turn drained to the river.

Immediately I called the Ma Department of Environmental Protection pollution hotline and was put in touch with a member of their emergency response team. Soon after a site visit was made and a determination was rendered that there was a problem. The following day DEP personnel and I met with a representative of the sites owner, Bay State Gas. At the urging of DEP Bay State reluctantly agreed to a site visit. Representatives of the City, Bay State Gas and DEP visited the site; a remediation plan for the site was implemented and then carried out. At that time it was assumed the contaminants were not leaching off the contaminated site, rather they were old contaminates embedded in and leaching from the banks of the channel which the drain emptied into. The channel was excavated of contaminants and lined with new material and stone rip rap, problem solved?

Fast forward 2011, I am contacted by the Taunton River Watershed Alliance regarding the river and the same site, now owned by Columbia Gas. They urge me to attend the upcoming Brockton Conservation Commission meeting to provide some insight into my experience with the site. At this meeting representatives of Columbia Gas are seeking approval of yet another remediation plan for the same site and same problem which was supposed to have been remedied in 2002.

At this meeting of the Brockton ConCom, Columbia and their hired environmental consultants admitted that in fact pollution was leaching from their site by way of this porous storm drain running parallel to the site and into the stream. In fact Columbia had installed a special lining in this pipe a couple years earlier to prevent such leaching. Despite their own findings and admissions in regard to leaching pollutants they once again, like Bay State Gas before them insisted that the problem is in the channel that was previously fixed, not from their contaminated site which is up hill and only a childs stone throw from the river bank.  Once again the proposed solution is to excavate the channel?

The answer to this ongoing leaching and pollution question can be definitively determined by the installation of a simple series of monitoring wells along the river bank. This will allow monitoring over time to find out once and for all what is going on in the ground and water here. This is what Brockton ConCom has requested and it is what Columbia Gas steadfastly refuses to do. Columbia Gas is currently appealing to Ma DEP in an effort to bypass the home rule of the Brockton ConCom and go forward with their plan without further testing of the site. 

Installation of such test wells is quite common place in such matters and they are relatively inexpensive given the value and revenue of a corporation like Columbia Gas.

Who is Columbia Gas? The parent company of Columbia Gas is the NISource Corporation, a company valued at around 5 billion dollars. The NISource 2010 annual report states that they will invest about 1 billion dollars in expansion this year, 2011. They are launching a 600 million dollar environmental investment program in Indiana this year. On page 11 of their annual report the chairman of NISource Mr. Ian M. Rolland makes the following statement “Our vision is to establish a legacy of sustained economic growth, social responsibility and environmental stewardship.”

As I sit by the stream bed alongside the channel drafting this letter the mound of the contaminated site looms up behind me as the Salisbury Plain meanders before me. Stream side willows, silver leaves fluttering in the warm breeze conduct a symphony of song sung by birds of the spring meadows, cardinals, redwing blackbirds, catbirds, Baltimore orioles, and peepers of the swampy places. For those that have not been here it is a lively, peaceful and beautiful place in a peculiar, righteous, underdog sort of way. As my ears fill with sound so my nose fills with a familiar scent from the past, acrid coal tar. It hangs thick in the humid air at this site and well downstream. Its color stains the water and brings to mind more words from page 9 of the NISource annual report, “A simple truth, do the right thing.” As I contemplate how to wrap up this already long letter the spring breeze here wafts another scent streamside, more acrid and perhaps more disturbing than coal tar. It is the foul stench of corporate irresponsibility and social injustice flourishing behind a high priced veil of high minded words born of a carefully crafted corporate campaign.

Absolutes are difficult to come by. For close to 15 years now I have been active in local river issues throughout the Taunton River Watershed, much of that in the City of Brockton. During this time one absolute has been established. Such open and gross pollution does not take place on other nearby rivers in other more affluent communities. It does not and would not be allowed, by either the towns or DEP.  

In my experience the city has not always been responsive to issues regarding its rivers. In this case Brockton by way of its Conservation Commission has taken a solid stand in defense of the river. They are making a statement, its time to do a better job and stop the degradation and begin the restoration of the waterways in the city. We at Glooskap and the Frog strongly urge Ma DEP to stand with the City and citizens of Brockton in demanding that Columbia Gas meet the reasonable requests of the Brockton Conservation Commission.

Pages & Pictures from 02...... HERE


NISource......... HERE

Corporate Creeds,

 Stench and Greed,

 Board rooms gleam,

Squeaky clean,

 Children scream,

 Sights unseen,

 For the team,

 Make em dream,

 Manufactured scenes,

 Wide colored screens,

 Imprinted minds,

 Perceiving needs,

 Collective eyes,


Marketing schemes

 Make it seem,

 A pleasant scene,

 "His mind slid away into the labyrinth of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe democracy was impossible and that the party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself that was the ultimate subtly: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink."

George Orwell 1984


BEWARE of the Baobabs