By Gintautas Dumcius
A 2.1-mile sewer overflow tunnel being built
under William J. Day Boulevard may be hitting a
speed bump, as a key Columbia Point landowner is
raising a stink over a planned odor control
The Corcoran Jennison Companies, owner of the
Bayside Exposition Center, is planning on hitting
local neighborhood civic associations with its
concerns on the single-story brick structure, known
as an odor control facility, set to be built behind
the State Police barracks.
The odor control facility, due to be built this
summer and fully working by 2010, is at one end of
the tunnel the Massachusetts Water Resources
Authority is building, with a pumping station at
the other at Conley Terminal in South Boston.
Corcoran Jennison officials say the facility can
be designed to keep a lower profile, be more
environmentally friendly and operate better during
peak periods. The company is also asking for state
Department of Environmental Protection
The requests have left MWRA staffers nonplussed,
with the quasi-public agency coming out swinging at
Tuesday night's meeting of the McCormack Civic
"This isn't the eleventh hour to bring this up.
This is five seconds to midnight," said Jeff
McLaughlin, the MWRA's community relations
coordinator. "It's a bit surprising to the MWRA
that people have this concern."
Corcoran Jennison officials also say they only
specifically learned of the odor facility last
year, a claim MWRA staffers dispute. Staffers
brought with them a collection of press clips on
the tunnel project and a timeline of meetings on
the project with a number of neighborhood groups
and Corcoran Jennison.
"We've been meeting with people all along on
this project," McLaughlin said.
They also disagree on whether the facility will
generate an odor. Corcoran Jennison said the odor
could waft up and throughout the area, while MWRA
staffers say there will be no odor at all.
Corcoran Jennison representatives were not able
to make the MCA meeting on Tuesday, but their
director of community relations, Catherine O'Neill,
told the Reporter, "It's a great deal of concern to
us. We think it can work better."
The tunnel project, started about two months
ago, is now about 20 percent complete. A $10
million boring machine from Japan has recently been
installed in a location under Farragut Road. The
project is meant to reduce beach closings after
heavy rains, which often cause sewage and storm
water to get dumped into the harbor and beaches
some twenty times a year. The state Department of
Conservation and Recreation has had to close
beaches eight times every swimming season due to
the pollution from the sewage and storm water.
With the tunnel in place, sewage, instead of
getting sent into the bay, will be collected and
pumped out to Deer Island for treatment.
Heavy electric fans housed in the odor control
facility, with 8-foot blades, will draw the air out
of the tunnel. The air will then be purified with
If Tuesday night's MCA meeting is any
indication, Corcoran Jennison may have an uphill
battle on their hands. Members of the civic
association had few questions about the project,
including whether the fans will be too loud.
McLaughlin said he has not heard any neighborhood
complaints about a similar facility already in use
near Union Park in the South End.
Local politicians have also come out in favor of
the tunnel project, pointing to its potential to
clean up beaches from Castle Island to Dorchester
MWRA staffers also acknowledged that an
"emission control" facility may be a better name,
instead of "odor control," and say the project has
gotten the necessary permits, and does not need the
DEP oversight that the agency agreed to submit to
back in 1999.
MWRA staffers say they're open to design changes
and adjustments, but add that the project has never
changed, while Corcoran Jennison, responding to the
the loss of gate shows at Bayside, have plans to
demolish and replace it with a new neighborhood of
housing and retail buildings.
"We're doing what we can to appease them,"
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