PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, OCT. 14, 2011) — Today, THE PLANET’s continuing coverage of the singlemost important issue facing Pittsfield and Berkshire County continues with a look at the notorious Hill 78. First, though, we share a few other quick items.

CRANWELL FORCED TO MAKE RIGHT BY WORKERS — This from Kara Dominick, Channel 22 News in Springfield, courtesy of Da Gen: The courts have ordered Cranwell Resort in Lenox to cough up a cool $7 million to 700 current and former employees. According to the Boston Globe, the action came in response to a class-action lawsuit by the workers, accusing Cranwell management of  pulling a Patrick’s Pub by withholding tips. Cranwell Management Corp. has denied any wrongdoing. Of course. The settlement must be approved by a judge. Da Gen asks, “Where is this story in the Boring Broadsheet”? Let’s see: THE PLANET, WWLP, and the Globe have run it but not the BB? Gee, do you think it has anything to do with the fact that Cranwell is an advertiser there? DO YOU THINK THE BB WOULD CAVE IN TO AN ADVERTISER’S PRESSURE?

SINCE WHEN DO THE BRATS GET A SAY? — THE PLANET has to laugh at the way students at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington have whined and tantrumed following the administrations ban on the sexually suggestive form of dancing called grinding. In grinding, the couple simulates copulation. Couplulation, you might call it. One senior girl told the BB’s Trevor Jones: “It’s our generation; it’s our style. I can understand why they think it’s disrespectful to women, but the intention is not bad.” Another budding moralist from the younger generation told Jones: “It’s intimate; at the same time, it’s not inappropriate. There’s nothing going on out there beyond dancing.” Right. Try telling that to any red-blooded boy ages 15 to 17. THE PLANET loved parent Gina Hyams’ comment: “The school is being entirely reasonable to say, ‘Dance like your grandmother is watching.'” Adults to brats: “You’re getting a “free” education courtesy of the bedraggled taxpayers. Shut up! You have no say!”

DON’T ASK POLITICIANS TO CREATE JOBS — Job Fairs of late have been boasting long lines. Lots of people out of work, not enough jobs to fill them. In Pittsfield, the ultimate cause for this sad state can be found in the air, soil, and water. GE’s pollution aside, however, since when did it become government’s responsibility to “create jobs”? What makes anyone think giving this responsibility to windbag politicians will lead to anything else but more graft and corruption? The factor few have addressed in the recent jobs “crisis” is the nature of work in the global economy, where technology has replaced the need for workers at a pace that equals or exceeds the fears of science fiction writers back in post-war America. The market creates jobs. Or doesn’t. Americans are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Can that happen without a job? If not, don’t blame the markets of the greedy corporations. Blame the nature of work, then find another way to achieve those great constitutional rights. It’s possible.

‘YOU CAN’T TRUST METER PARCHETTI’ — The quietest campaigns on record move along at a Sleepy Hollow pace. On Tuesday, voters in 12 of Pittsfield 14 districts elect a new state rep, courtesy of Larded, who bailed like Larkin. Meanwhile, the municipal elections crawl along and no one cares. Debates draw seven audience members. Radio audiences fall asleep. In this scenario, Dan Bianchi becomes the next mayor of Pittsfield.  He just sits back, smiling, and lets Peter Marchetti hoist himself with a campaign whose ineffectiveness takes one back to when heavy favorite Angelo Stracuzzi got whipped by Anne Wotjkowski in the late 80s. For example, take Bianchi’s slogan: “Leadership you can trust.” What it says: “You can’t trust Meter Parchetti.” In other words, it doesn’t actually name Peter, but it in effect does. Barring the dyslexicly unforseen, Bianchi’s a double-digit shoe in.



The negotiations that led to the GE Consent Decree pitted the company’s sharpest legal minds vs. the city of Pittsfield represented by Gerry Doyle. Who got the best of whom, do you think?

And what were the “side inducements” long rumored, if any, that got the city to sign off on a singularly ineffective document that led almost all of GE’s poisons in the city? We likely shall never know. The talks were done in secret, and to date, no transcripts have been released. What are they hiding? Again, your guess is as good as THE PLANET’s.


The capping rather than the cleaning of Silver Lake (see yesterday’s PLANET) and the presence of Hill 78 stand as the two perfect symbols for the one-sided nature of the Consent Agreement in GE’s favor. The city had the chance during the negotiations to put the squeeze on GE in the name of ethics and justice. It decided to let the company off the hook. Curious, isn’t it? And since every aspect of the dealing was left hidden, the officials and “unofficial,” we don’t know who, if anyone, got paid off.

If you read the actual summation of Hill 78 from the federal EPA’s executive summary of the Consent Agreement, you find this subparagraph of Sec. B1 (“Material and debris excavated from the areas subject to this Consent Decree”):

Subparagraph c.) Hill 78 — 5.6 acre footprint and 1,050 maximum elevation…

Hill 78 is called a “consolidation area.” That’s a euphemism for “toxic dump.” Another “consolidation area was put at Hill (or Building) 71, a 4.4-acre, 1,048 foot tall mountain of poison located at Merrill Road and New York Avenue. The agreement calls not for removal of this poison but for “Capping and long-term monitoring.” How reassuring to know that in the moving earth, those poisons sit, waiting for their big chance.


Literally a few yards from Hill 78 — at 1,050 max elevation nearly as tall as the Empire State Building — sits Allendale School on a 12-acre parcel that was formerly used as a GE dump. Comforting thought, isn’t it? Capping this mountain of horror instead of removing all the toxins once and for all was deemed by the signatories to the Agreement good enough for Pittsfield and her children.

The school building itself has a 40,000 sq. ft. footprint on the northern portion of the property. The school was built in 1950. In that same year, the city and GE reached an agreement that allowed the city to use contaminated GE soil as fill material on the school grounds. This material originated from Hill 78 , located south of the school across Tyler Street Extension.

As concerns rose about Hill 78’s proximity to the school, GE, the state DEP, and the city entered into talks. Decision: Keep the poisons there and install a two-foot soil cap (with geotextile) over “much” (not all) of the playground area. In 1998, GE removed additional soil from the school yard.

The EPA writes: “As a result of the cleanup under the Consent Decree, there are no use or soil restrictions on the school property. GE has completed their post-removal site activities in 200 and has no further inspection of maintenance requirements.

Let us repeat from the current EPA posting: GE … has no further inspection or maintenance requirements.

THE PLANET’S question for all concerned parties — citizens, office holders, candidates for office, and the like: IS THIS SITUATION ACCEPTABLE? And is it acceptable that the local daily (a.k.a. the Boring Broadsheet) and the rest of the mainstream media continue to ignore this singular issue?


One group was right on this travesty, almost as soon as the ink dried. Housatonic River Initiative published the following article in its Summer 1999 newsletter:

1988 EPA Site Assessment: “Building 78 Landfill – The unit was formerly a ravine which has been filled with waste material. … Former employees stated in an interview that drums and liquid containing ‘Pyranol’ were disposed in the landfill in the 1950s and 1960s. Pyranol is composed of 60% PCBs. Sampling of the fill has revealed some areas with PCB concentrations at several hundred ppm. … DEQE [the Mass. Department of Environmental Quality and Engineering – which preceded the DEP] suspects an oil layer exists in the landfill. Former employees stated PCB-containing liquids were poured on the ground.”

It only gets worse. An APRIL 1994 Public Involvement Plan document by the Massachusetts DEP states: “The Hill 78 landfill is approximately two acres in size with a maximum depth of approximately 40 feet. … The school property is within 50 feet of the Hill 78 site fence line. From approximately 1940 to 1980, GE used the Hill 78 area as a landfill for demolition or construction debris, excess fill and solid (reportedly non-hazardous) waste. GE also allegedly used the landfill to dispose of drums containing PCBs and fuller’s earth saturated with PCBs in the 1950s and 1960s.

The EPA RCRA Facility Assessment stated that former GE employees disposed of PCB oil in the landfill. From 1980 to early 1990, GE used this area to store soils containing less than 50 ppm PCBs from routine, facility-wide excavations. Sampling of the fill revealed areas with PCB concentrations up to 120,000 ppm in subsurface soil.” (emphasis ours)

“Investigations in this area conducted prior to 1989 were completed on behalf of GE… Most of the soil sampling was completed to determine the extent of contamination in the proposed Altresco plant construction area. The location selected for the Altresco plant generally contains less than 1 ppm PCBs, except for the northern portion of this area, where concentrations as high as 16,000 ppm were detected at a depth of six feet.”

“Oily sheens were present on two of the soil samples from the fill. The fill extends at least 25 feet below the ground surface. Subsurface soil at the site is contaminated with PCBs at concentra-tions up to 120,000 ppm and VOCs were present in soils at concentrations of less than 1 ppm. Ground-water samples were collected from the four wells and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs and inorganics. Results indicated the presence of phenols at 75 ppb.

In 1991, GE’s consultants completed a Phase I investigation of the site. … Results confirmed that the landfill area is the most contaminated portion of the site. Ground water in the vicinity of the landfill area is conta-minated with PCBs at concentrations up to 9 ppb. In addition, VOCs were detected in ground-water samples collected from wells located downgradient of the landfill area and south of the Altresco power plant at concentrations of less than 1,000 ppb.

Ground-water samples collected from a well in the southwestern corner of the site contained concentra-tions of less than 30 ppb of dioxins and furans. The Department classified the site as a priority and GE submitted Phase II Scope of Work proposing further definition of ground-water contamination at the site and assessment of contamina-tion potentially attributable to abandoned transformer oil lines extending from the East Street Area II site across this site and to Building 51 (part of the Unkamet Brook site).

And then from the DEP’s Public Involvement Plan, Volume 5, Page 12: Table 1: Descriptions and Characteristics of GE Pittsfield Disposal Sites: Hill 78 Landfill Area; 57 acres; DEP & EPA jurisdiction – Contamination: PCBs in subsurface soils (average concentration 498 ppm; maximum concentration: 120,000 ppm).







  1. Ray Ovac
    October 14, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    DV, why does any intelligent parent agree to send children to Allendale School? What if parents just said no?

    • ambrose bearse
      October 14, 2011 at 9:12 am #

      Maybe they should opt to send their kids to Lenox like the rep whose going to Boston to “work for us”. An aside to that the GOB’s and WHENIES are starting to muddy up Melissa Mazzeo because she sends her kids to St. Agnes. Their argument, ‘Isn’t that the same as Nesbit-Farley is doing?’ Difference is Melissa’s paying to send her young to a private school. Nesbit-Farley is sending hers on the taxpayers dime. Wonder if she had to shell out $13 grand to send them to Lenox, would she?

      • Shakes His Head
        October 14, 2011 at 10:30 am #

        Downtown Inc. is looking for a new director, let’s see who the Mayor and the goons at Greylock shove into the position, maybe a fall-back if TFB somehow loses the election. Marchetti doesn’t want her chained to his ankle.

        • Anytime
          October 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

          How bout Parchetti getting the job after he loses?

      • danvalenti
        October 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

        Well done! Yeah, like TFNB is going to “work for us.” Difference? You nailed it. St. Agnes costs plenty, and God bless anyone for giving their kids the benefit of a Catholic education. TFNB sends her kids to Lenox with the rest of us picking up her bill. Great post, my friend.

    • danvalenti
      October 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      I hear ya, but the onus shouldn’t be on parents. It should be on every city official for allowing the travesty of Hill 78 to exist one second longer.

  2. Dave Bubriski
    October 14, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    A few questions on PCB’s but please don’t respond unless you really know:

    Many places that had underground fuel storage tanks developed problems with the fuel leaking out over several years into the groundwater and now they have on scene treatment plants. Why wouldn’t such a facility work around Hill 78 and elsewhere?
    Which organisms are most likely to take up PCB’s? I include Protista, flora and fauna in this question.
    In the rest of the river, between the confluence and pond has anyone done an estimate on the mass of PCB’s taken up in the course of a given time period?
    I suspect that Tim Gray might have an answer but possibly there is someone else who has answers.

  3. beezer
    October 14, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    @Dave…we already have a toxic on sight septic tank..SILVER LAKE.

  4. Anytime
    October 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Beezer !!!

  5. Jim Gleason
    October 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Heard today from well informed people that Gerry Doyle had a big fundraiser for Marchetti and that Angeblow Jacuzzi is also heavily involved in helping (?) his campaign. One left the city $10 million in debt when he left power and under control of the state and the other solicited 13 and 15 year old boys for sex. Sounds like the kind of people you don’t want around your mayor or around a city councilor at that.

    • Silence Dogood
      October 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      good post JG

      • P. Alfonso
        October 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

        Ditto. The men you mention, all three, are reprehensible. If parchetti wins, it will be a disaster. doyle sold out pittsfield for a bottle of rotgut on the consent agreement. angeblow? nuff said.

  6. Dave Bubriski
    October 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm #


    Dan, our legislature created plenty of jobs…..but they were in other states….that’s why we’re losing a seat in Congress…

    Thank you DeLeo, Deval and TM…and I don’t mean meditation

  7. P. Alfonso
    October 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    the dems created jobs for themselves and their cronies and screwed the people. repubs were only marginally better under mitt romney, but marginal is the best we can hope for and i’ll take it, this voter is voting for jester on tuesday

    • scott
      October 15, 2011 at 3:49 am #

      Me too!

  8. Joetaxpayer
    October 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Wondering how much of the 2% RAISE IN STUDENT population in the elementary grades is from the the pre k program.They never got specific when counting students of the pittsfield public schools.

    • Dusty
      October 15, 2011 at 1:54 am #

      According to the Gazette there were 87 new students…all at the elementary level. From this you need to deduct the 36 high school and 42 middle school kids who will not be attending. So it still looks like people are bailing big time from the high school level. These are school dept figures. If that is stabilization it must come with an asterisk.

    • scott
      October 15, 2011 at 3:50 am #

      Looks like shoving some money into advertising instead of actually making the schools better has paid off.

    • Terry Kinnas
      October 15, 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Per state DOE enrollment 2010-2011, pre k = 124
      Per School Department report Oct. 1, 2010, pre k = 184.
      Per School Department report Oct. 1, 2011, pre k = 228.

  9. JoeBlow
    October 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    The Eagle had the wrong math,the real increase was .02 % 12 kids.

  10. Dee
    October 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    What got me about one of the debates between Bianchi and Marchetti was the way in which Marchetti intends to treat the dept. heads. According to him, he will ask for everyone to resign, and then reapply with a resume. He will then review the resumes, as well as “other resumes” and appoint the person he feels is best suited for the job.

    Wow – that is pretty blatent. At least with Ruberto when he stacked the deck he did it in a way that was a slight of the hand. Marchetti intends to stack the deck and he’s telling any voter out there that it’s what he is going to do.

    Just imagine what city hall will look like under his administration. He will appoint those that he can control. Pretty smart puppet if you ask me.

    October 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Have a question I hope someone can answer. Cain wants a 9 9 9 tax. Says 9% Fed sales tax, Does that mean we will pay 9% tax on everything we buy????? Hope some one can fill me in on this Thanks

  12. Nomad
    October 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Heard the Governors political spot for TFB several times today.

    Connect the dots. Deval…Ruberto…Doyle…Angeblow…Marchetti…TFB.

    I hope the voters send a message to the GOB’s next Tuesday and again on November 8th.

      October 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      Don’t count on it Mass voters have been voting for idiots, perverts and unqualified people for years. Why stop know!!!!

  13. Ray Ovac
    October 15, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    What is the actual enrollment of Allendale School?

    • Terry Kinnas
      October 15, 2011 at 11:16 am #

      Per School Department report as of Oct. 1, 2011, enrollment is 320.

      • Anytime
        October 15, 2011 at 11:23 am #

        Another reason why Terry Kinnas will win a seat on the school board in the Nov election. Hes on the ball.

      • Ray Ovac
        October 16, 2011 at 5:25 am #

        And parents continue to send kids to Allendale because…….?

  14. Remington Steele
    October 15, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    If TFNesbitt Blah-Blah gets in as state rep, the corruption continues there. If Meter Parchetti (I love it) gets elected as mayor, the tiny ray of hope for Pittsfield gets extinguished. Both are GOB puppets. Corruption corruption corruption. Can Pittsfield voters be THAT stupid to elect these two clowns?

  15. Still wondering
    October 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I’m thinking that Pam should do very well Tuesday. The voters do seem to have the GOB issue on their minds and want real change. The way I see it is, Dan B. and Pam both win. I am being very optimistic all the while knowing that voter turnout is key.