PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, FEB. 15, 2013) — Since PEDA and Mayor Dan Bianchi seem to be putting a lot of money on its bet on Nuclea Biotechnologies at PEDA, questions about the company continue to surface. We explore this question a bit more today, but we also present new information on the finding of pollution on the site.

SPOILER ALERT: Later in this piece, THE PLANET uncovers what appears to be evidence of major additional pollution discovered in 2009 when the Water Quality Basis was built on the 30s Section of the PEDA campus. Despite this discovery four years ago, we don’t recall this ever being revealed or heretofore published. If that is the case, THE PLANET DARES TO BREAK THE SILENCE!! Read on, intrepid explorers.


In this news, THE PLANET may well have discovered a reason why, after 15 years, not one company outside Berkshire County has wanted to move to the site.

Nuclea, Front and Center

Yesterday, we had several commentators interested in Nuclea, including Ed, who asked if Nuclea is a R&D company depending in a parasitic way on grants and taxpayer dollars, or is it a self-sustaining, for-profit concern that sells or licenses its alleged cancer detection systems to the health care industry? It’s an important question.

If Nuclea is a research and development outfit, then expect taxpayer dollars to begin flying out the window and likely down the drain. If it’s a for-profit company with a commercial product, what is it selling, who are its customers, what is the state of its profit-and-loss sheet, and why does it need taxpayer dollars? Here’s another big question: How thoroughly did PEDA perform its due diligence on the company prior to giving it what could be a blank check at taxpayer’s expense?

Readers may remember that about two-and-a-half months ago, on Dec. 5, THE PLANET ran this item:

EV Worldwide, Workshop Live, and … — Is it happening again? On its website, Nuclea Biotechnologies of Pittsfield calls itself a (TAKE A DEEP BREATH HERE) “translational medicine company dedicated to the discovery of proprietary bookmarkers and in vitro companion diagnostic assays based on corresponding gene and protein expression profiles associated with an individual’s tumor or specific disease state.” Got that?

On Nov. 8 2012, at the PEDA HQ, Mayor Dan Bianchi announced that Nuclea, a Pittsfield-based company, will be moving to the William Stanley Business Park at PEDA. “He never gave up on Pittsfield,” Bianchi said of Pittsfield native Patrick Muraca, head of the company. Bianchi trotted out the carrot of jobs. Each job Muraca creates will produce five other jobs elsewhere, Bianchi, said, claiming that’s how it works in the “life sciences” industry. 

Jobs, jobs, jobs. One job will magically create five! Pittsfield has heard that before. Then came the dreaded announcement: PEDA and Gov. Deval Patrick have earmarked $6 million to build a life science center at PEDA. Uh-oh, looks like we might have another quasi-public-private venture on our hands. Fortunately, an earmark is not an appropriation. Before that happens, Bianchi said, “We’ve got some homework to do to get there.” He said the city is working on “the documents and the collaborative evidence” for the state to release taxpayer funds.

Will this be another EV Worldwide-type deal or is this legit? It bears watching, but in our naivete, we wonder, up front:

* If this is such a great investment, why do taxpayers have to play venture capitalists?

* Where is the private money?

* Why aren’t commercial lenders willing to loan 100% of the capital of there’s a 5-to-1 return in jobs?

When we go back to the dense prosaic gobbledy-gook as posted on the Nuclea website, we wonder. Is this for real? Is the moon made of cheese?

Corydon: So ‘Excited’ About PEDA Prospects We Wonder: Did He Wet Himself?

Meanwhile, brace yourself for this earthquaker: PEDA executive director Corydon Thurston says 2013 “is going to be another exciting year for us.” Yes, he actually said “another,” as if there’s been an exciting year out of the previous 15. Ask anyone not connected to feeding off the PEDA-Public Trough if PEDA has had even one exciting year.

Corydon adds, “We remain very optimistic and excited.”

We get it, Corydon. You’re “excited.” You should be. You’re knocking down, what, six figures plus bennies, while the too much of working class Pittsfield isn’t, well, working. THE PLANET thus asks our readers: Wouldn’t you remain in a perpetual state of excitement for six figures, even though precious little has actually happened on the PEDA sight since 1998? Yeah, buildings were demolished, there is that cool looking Mountain One building, and PEDA still repeats a line it’s been throwing out for 15 years, about the large number of companies supposedly, it says, investigating relocating or building there. Funny, though, PEDA never has specifics, and it never names names.

Then Corydon gives us this temblor: “Our major focus of 2013 … continues to be the redevelopment of the property.”

Tsk tsk. Truth in advertising, Corydon, truth in advertising.

Is ‘The Private Sector’ Scared Off by What May Yet Be Lingering in the PEDA Air, Water, and,Soil? Is that Why There’s Been Nothing Doing?

If truth is on the agenda, we ask: Is the true reason the private sector isn’t beating down PEDA’s door the  pollution left in Pittsfield wake by General Electric? Who would want to risk a move here without 1000% indemnity against ALL future claims, especially in light of the following.

In 2009, when PEDA was constructing the water quality basin at the 30s Complex at the site, a Springfield firm called O’Reilly, Talbot, and Okun Associates wrote in an investigation report to the EPA dated Nov. 6, 2009 that “on May 28, 2009, oil-stained soils and free product were encountered while excavating the south eastern portion of the basin.”

“Free product” is an industry catch-all for any other kind of troublesome substance or material. It’s one of the indistry’s “uh-oh” terms. EPA shut down construction. A lot of back-room discussion followed.

This should never be the color of water.

GE and PEDA worked jointly on a “preliminary investigation plan” to explore the extent of the pollution. The MassDEP, however, rejected “the plan submitted by PEDA [because it] lacked the necessary detail to define the nature and the extent” of the pollution (oil, volatile organic compounds, total petroleum hydrocarbons, PCBs etc., PLANET’s underline). Eventually, the area was sampled. Soil was found to be “impacted” (translate: polluted), and 20 barrels worth of  “free oil” were taken off the water surface. The rainbow slicks must have been beautiful, though.

A Witch’s Brew of Chemicals

OTOA sent out samples of water and soil to Con-Test Analytical Laboaratory of East Longmeadow, Mass. Here is only a small portion of what showed up in the lab report: Naphthalene, 2-Methylnaphthalene, Acenaphthalene, Acenapthene, Fluorene, Phenathrene, Pyrene, Benzo(b)anthracene, Chrysene, Dibenzo(ah)anthracene, 2-Flurobiphenyl, 2-Bromoaphthalene, Chloroform, Benzene, Carbon Disulfide, Chloromethane, 1,2-Dichlorobenzene, Diethyl Ether, Hexochlorobutediene, Toluene, C9-C12 Aliphatics, C9-C12 Aromatics, Ethylbenzene, o-Xylene, m+p Xylene, 2-Hexanane (MBK), p-Isopropylbenzene (p-Cymene) and so on and so on. The other chemicals are too numerous to list. It’s a staggering lineup that goes on for 24 pages of small print.

Think about that for a moment. By 2009, PEDA was building the water basin, and it more or less led us  to believe by inference, hum-drum, and landscaping that you could eat breakfast off of the carpeting at the site.

As far as THE PLANET understands, this is the first time that details of  the November 2009 OTOA report have been made public. You certainly didn’t read about it in the Boring Broadsheet, which on that date was probably telling you about all the “exciting new developments” happening in beautiful downtown Pittsfield and telling you all that James Taylor would be performing at Tanglewood (accompanied by Clarence Fanto‘s sidebar fan letter).

Did PEDA deliberately try to hide this information? There’s no way of telling. It boils down to trust. If you want to trust them, well and good. We would ask you, though, upon what basis? Also, what else has the PEDA board kept under wraps? Does it take an enterprising journalist to spend the next five years reading through all of the documents and data to arrive at an honest explanation?

Of course, along with Jimmy Ruberto, Dan Bianchi, Corydon Thurston, Pat Muraca, and every fair-minded citizen of Pittsfield, THE PLANET hopes PEDA and Nuclea are “for real.” The long record of dashed hopes, however, require a more sober analyst at this point, one who can take the hype with a drop of basin water.

All we know is that when they tell us, “Don’t look behind that curtain,” that’s the time to get the dog and rip the fabric in two. And if you’re a CEO or board chairman of a company contemplating a move or an expansion of your business, the last place you’ll probably want to look is Pittsfield, where you’ll have to deal with some combination of politics and pollution. Who needs it?

As a wrap-up, we also bring up a campaign promise made by councilor-at-large Melissa Mazzeo in 2011. She told THE PLANET that if re-elected, she would push stridently for a reopening of the 1998 Consent Decree. Thus far, all we’ve heard from our Right Honorable Good Friend, the council woman, is nothing substantive on that issue. We would remind her of her promise. This is another campaign year. There’s still another nine or 10 months left to make good.


“Water recedes to the crying of spiders. / An old scow bumps over black rocks. / A cracked pod calls. / Mother me out of here.”Theodore Roethke 





  1. Scott
    February 15, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Nice piece and a very important issue that Pittsfield has to overcome if they ever want to get anywhere. And that is the pollution left behind by GE if GE is not going to take responsibility then we need to work with the EPA and come up with a solution to fix it ourselves. It has to be done. No wonder they have such a huge liability policy that it made news a while back. Also it’s ironic Nuclea is involved in cancer detection research.

  2. Payroll Patriot
    February 15, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Dan, it must be true because I found it on internet. I hope this works.

  3. Ron Kitterman
    February 15, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    A good piece Dan, my theory is : It’s all about the envelopes. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the Catholic Church protecting pedophile priests, or Pittsfield and PEDA ignoring OTOA’s reports of pollution or reopening the 1998 consent decree. The power, influence and control goes way beyond the GOB’s in Pittsfield as we’ve seen yesterday with the rejection of Attorney Michael McCarthy for a judge in the South Berkshires. Keep up the fight though, we may as well go down kicking and screaming than following the bastards like lemmings or sheep in the darkness of night.

    • dusty
      February 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Do I recall the name Mike McCarthy from the Civic Authority days?

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks, Ron. You were a catalyst for much of it. We got curious and started fishing online. That’s when we hit upon the OTOA report. It was a long an laborious read, but it yielded a good result. The people of Pittsfield need to know of such developments. The “everything is great” and “Things are exciting” approach is a broken record. Don’t they realize that they are only fooling themselves?

  4. Joe Blow
    February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    See also…

    • Scott
      February 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Thanks for sharing that! George Jervas passed last year didn’t he?

      • Joe Blow
        February 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

        Scott, yes … I believe he was in his late 70’s

  5. outfox
    February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Wow, this is major! Whatever happened to the plan to rehab Silver Lake into a recreation spot?

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Plans are under way even as we write to remediate the shore of Silver Lake. This will create a much-needed pedestrian walkway around the lake. We support that 100%.

      • outfox
        February 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

        If it really happens, and is done well, it will be great.

  6. Clarence Darrow
    February 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm #


    Your sign off should read, “Open the window, Aunt Minne.”

    This expression comes from (as you should well know, being a baseball fan) a home run call from a Pirates announcer. The call was “Open the window, Aunt Minne, cause here she comes.”

    Here is a reference to this anecdote:

    Please correct it, unless you actually have an Aunt Mille.

    • Scott
      February 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Are you really Clarence Darrow???

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks. Yes, I know of the Bob prince use of “Aunt Minnie.” Prince borrowed the phrase from a minor league announcer whose name has been covered by the dust of history. I did have an Aunt Millie, my mom’s sister, much beloved. Now, as to WHY I close the column this way, that remains known only to me. Keep guessing, though. It’s free!

      • outfox
        February 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

        DV, didn’t you give it up in your “pooped Pope” blog yesterday? Open the window to let in some FRESH air, throw some sunlight on it, i.e. expose it to new ideas.

    • Twist
      February 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      That’s why I asked… I love this blog

    • Twist
      February 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      That’s why I asked… I love this blog

      • FPR
        February 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

        say it one more time for emphasis.

  7. Joe Blow
    February 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    I was just reading that PEDA is looking to hire a consultant to write a business plan. They don’t have one already? Wow!

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Yes, you heard correctly. PEDA wants an outside consultant to figure out how to pursue the Life Sciences money (taxpayer dollars, remember). Though the mayor expanded the board from seven to 11, Corydon doesn’t feel confident in the team, it seems. One apologist used the feeble situation excuse of the members of the board having “day jobs.” Really? I though Gary Grunin was retired? Even so, they are either dedicated to the job or not. The PEDA board either can handle a matter like this or it can’t. Seeking an outside consultant is a blatant admission that the board can’t handle the job. Meanwhile, the engine revs but the gearshift is stuck in idle.

  8. FPR
    February 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Wow Dan,

    Bombshell. I wonder how many people are in the cemeteries of Pittsfield bearing silent testimony to the toxic chemicals in the ground and water being a contributing factor to their death.

    Also on Pope Benny — looks the real reason is starting to come out for his stepping down. He is meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano for some kind of immunity on some very serious charges that he may be arrested for:

    Looks like it could shake the Vatican to its very core.

    It only cost Michael Jackson 15 million — lets see how much the Vatican will cough up to the right politicians.

    • Scott
      February 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Time for the church to come clean and give the victims recognition and rewrite policy. I don’t see any other way of gaining back any integrity and preventing their demise.

    • outfox
      February 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      FPR, Pittsfield eats her young that’s for sure. I have lost several friends in the last decade to various cancers—oddly they are all men, but it does make me wonder.

  9. Giacometti
    February 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm #


    You are thinking of Michael McDonald…who during the Civic Authority days was with the law firm Cain, Hibbard & Myers one of the driving forces behind the Civic Authority.

    Michael McCarthy is a partner with the law firm George De Gregorio Massimiano & McCarthy

    Michael McDonald went on to serve on the board of the Colonial Theater

    • dusty
      February 16, 2013 at 2:36 am #

      thanks for the clarification Giacometti….sorry about that …I would not want an innocent person to be associated with that diabolical plot

  10. Tony
    February 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Nuclea Biotechnologies is a company with no product, a questionable CEO and very poor record keeping. If it was my money in their hands I’d be asking them serious questions like; explain what ground breaking discoveries you’ve made, how you generate profit and how you create job opportunities. Nuclea has not shown that any of its work has been published or reviewed in any scientific journals. This company’s claim to fame is fourteen patents. Whoever is the salesman for Biotechnologies I want to hire; I have a bridge to sell and could use ten million dollars.

    • Rick
      February 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      This guy is a walking Ponzi scheme…………

  11. Tony
    February 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Off topic but what is the status on “The Attorney Wars”?

  12. Jonathan Melle
    February 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    PEDA was originally BEDA, but no other Berkshire munipality would sign on to it. GE funded PEDA. Over a decade and 0 developers/tenants. PCBs toxic waste is all over the ground, water and air in Pittsfield. Most of the PCBs toxic waste was NOT cleaned. Some of the PCBs toxic waste was capped. The problem with capping toxic waste is that it is a temporary band aid solution because capping toxic waste doesn’t last more than about 2 decades or less. Once the caps expire, the toxic waste spread through the ground, water and air in Pittsfield. Thousands of local residents have suffered and/or died from cancer caused by GE’s PCBs toxic waste. Gerry Doyle did a disservice to Pittsfield by signing the Consent Decree. Jimmy Ruberto spent millions of dollars of GE’s money to Pittsfield on renovating North Street. Pittsfield still has a depressed local economy.

  13. billy
    February 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    I congratulate
    you for taking councilor mazzeo to task on her campaign promise..She seems to think she is the vice mayor at every council meeting. when voted down on a issue she waste time by complaining about the result and questioning why they came to it especially if it was something she didnt agree with,and lengthening the meeting instead of excepting the verdict of the democratic process . When her fellow councilors question procedure or something they believe doesn’t
    past the smell test she does not explain her reasoning for defending her beliefs but instead tries to stop tough questions by threatening to go to the Attorney Generals office when she doesn’t like the topic ..I hope she will puts in as much effort in battling for overturning the consent decree as she does trying to tear down the democratic process and free speech. I would tell my fellow bloggers not to hold their breath waiting for her to accomplish this fruitless promise cause she is great on the talking part but terrible on follow through.. Im sure she will blame it on Ruberto or the GOB. because thats what you do when you dont have a answer to a tough question or a unfulfilled promises. BRAVO DAN

  14. GMHeller
    February 16, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    According to Wikipedia, Fluorene “is obtained from coal tar. It is insoluble in water”.
    Lucky Pittsfield.

    • Roman Knows
      February 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      Coal tar is a byproduct formed during the manufacturing of coke or coal gas per Wikipedia. Berkshire Gas manufactured coal gas on the river side of East St. on the property just west of Newell St. This went on from the start of the business until the Natural gas line arrived in the early fifties.

  15. GMHeller
    February 16, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Mr. Valenti,

    You write above: “As far as THE PLANET understands, this is the first time that details of the November 2009 OTOA report have been made public.”

    So where is The Planet’s link to the OTOA report?
    Please post that link, or alternatively, post the entire report itself so that the public can have opportunity to read first-hand that document.

    Further, does not OTOA’s report in itself provide the evidence and thus legal grounds to reopen and challenge the GE Consent Decree?
    Does not the OTOA Report prove unequivocally that even with all the ballyhooed efforts by GE and USEPA at remediation, the result is that there are still unacceptable levels of poisonous Cancer-causing “free product” moving throughout the local water table — chemicals which simultaneously pollute the surrounding air?
    Does not OTOA’s Report also prove unequivocally that current efforts at remediation have plainly not been sufficient — if not a total failure — and that all that ‘free product’ that yet remains in Pittsfield ground is available to re-pollute the Housatonic River watershed and those areas that have already been so expensively remediated?
    It’s time to press forward to reopen the Consent Decree and the OTOA Report provides the evidence by which to accomplish that goal.
    Meanwhile, the City of Pittsfield is sitting on what could easily be a $100 Billion lawsuit against General Electric Company (market cap: $243 Billion) and doing literally nothing about it.

  16. GMHeller
    February 16, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    By the way, a $100 Billion judgment against General Electric Company would equal $2,235,000 for each man, woman, and child living in Pittsfield (population 44,737 — 2010 Census).

    • FPR
      February 16, 2013 at 5:10 am #

      How much of that would be for Former Pittsfield Residents who lived there for 30+ years?

      • GMHeller
        February 16, 2013 at 9:00 am #

        Anyone who has lived in Pittsfield for any length of time could arguably seek inclusion in a class-action against General Electric Company.

        • FPR
          February 16, 2013 at 9:09 am #

          I agree Mr. Heller. I would like to hire you as my attorney. Say on a contingency basis? One third of the take? Sound about right?

          The $100 Billion should be divided up by how close you lived to GE and for how many years. A 5 year old boy who lives on Cascade st. should not get the same a 63 year old man who has lived his entire life on Newell st.

          I remember as a child the stench of those huge tanks across from Silver Lake on east st. The smell is indelibly etched in my memory. The toxins emanating from the ground, the air and the water in Pittsfield has caused 100’s of 1000’s of people irreparable damage.

          • Current Pittsfield Resident
            February 16, 2013 at 10:49 am #

            Those tanks were owned by Berkshire Gas Co

  17. tito
    February 16, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Maybe Renaldo will take them on, who better! Don’t wait for Missy to do anything.

  18. Randy Savage
    February 16, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    The only think Mazzeo knows how to do is win a popularity contest and get elected. She has done nothing while on the council except for embarrass the council and herself. Don’t hold your breath waiting for her to do anything except go on the radio and spew lies for the Mayor.

  19. rivetor
    February 16, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Councilor Mazzeo started out well and she was actually better in her first term when Ruberto was mayor. I have voted for her each time she ran for office. With Bianchi as mayor, tho, MM has an attitude about her and she has not served her constituents well, in my opinion. I never thought Id say this but I will have to seriously re-consider my at large vote

  20. Williams
    February 17, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Had to laugh at the timing, the Planet’s piece on PEDa and Corydon with the BB’s fawning fictional interview with Corydon. DV uncovers vital news and BB lays on another layer of journlistic fluff. Go Planet!

    • Scott
      February 17, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Yes the eagle will have you believe that if we just ban guns everything will be peachy. What a terrible disservice they have done for this community over the last 20 years. It’s time to engage them in information warfare. Even if Dan’s opinions seem dated and sexist at times he at least tells it like it is I like that about him. That as well as his mastery in written word is what keeps me coming back and has inspired me to get involved.

  21. Ron Kitterman
    February 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    It’s only money !! that not less than $6,500,000 shall be expended for the design, construction and development for a life science incubator building at the William Stanley Business Park in the city of Pittsfield;

    • Current Pittsfield Resident
      February 18, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      That grant was secured by the then 3rd Berkshire District Representative Christopher Speranzo . He didn’t eat the bacon like our current representative, he brought it home.

      • danvalenti
        February 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

        Chris brought home the bacon and he also enjoyed a lot of same.

    • danvalenti
      February 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      This “incubator” building is not what in keeping with the original promises of PEDA. Also, remember that incubators are for sick kids.

  22. C. J.
    February 19, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Cory Thurston is not a Pittsfield resident. What vested interest does he have in Pittsfield ? I understand he is part of the North Adams GOB which has a branch office in Pittsfield. What is his connection to Nuclea ? Family employed there ?