For several years, CLF has been working to eliminate illegal, toxic stormwater pollution from Grimmel Industries’ massive scrap-metal operation located on the banks of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth. Grimmel’s operation has taken place at the Market Street Terminal, owned by the State of New Hampshire but administered by Pease Development Authority (PDA). In a surprise decision last week, the PDA refused to renegotiate a lease with Grimmel, instead requiring the operation to be cleaned up and off the property by the end of this year.
Over the years, stormwater runoff from the Grimmel site has contained a host of pollutants, including PCBs, mercury, and various metals – all of it entering the Piscataqua River. At the urging of CLF, EPA issued an administrative order in 2011 that forced Grimmel and the PDA to reconfigure the site and install new stormwater controls, with the understanding that if the level of pollutants continued to exceed benchmarks, additional stormwater treatment would be necessary.
Water quality reports continued to reveal pollution problems, causing CLF to urge further action by EPA. In March 2014, EPA questioned the manner in which the facility was being operated – including the recovery of metal dropped into the river while loading ships – and also demanded that the stormwater upgrades be installed by early summer.
In addition to water pollution, air pollution from the Grimmel scrap-metal facility has caused great concern among nearby residents, who have complained about fugitive dust from the site. The matter is currently under study by the NH Department of Environmental Services, which installed an air monitoring station in late 2013 at the request of local residents and the City of Portsmouth.
The unresolved environmental issues undoubtedly played a role in the PDA decision. EPA was proactive in demanding that the water quality issues be resolved. The PDA will now search for a new tenant for the working port. Ensuring that future industrial operations adhere to the highest standards of clean water and clean air will be essential. The public deserves no less.