Underground tanks derail Weweantic River access plan

By Matthew Bernat | May 31, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray Town Harbormaster Garry Buckminster, Assistant Director of the Office of Fishing and Boating Access Doug Cameron, Mass EEA Public Access Coordinator Ross Kessler, and President of the League of Plymouth Sportsmen Paul Johnson discuss the proposed public access point to the Weweantic River at 0 Marion Road back in March.

A state plan that would have created a new public access point for anglers and kayakers on the Weweantic River has been abandoned after underground tanks were discovered on the site.

The plan, which would have added seven parking spaces at the property and a footpath allowing boaters to carry small craft to the river, was nixed in late May.

Officially located at 0 Marion Road, the privately owned property is on the right side of the road heading west, directly before the Wareham/Marion bridge. According to town officials, the owners were willing to sell the land at its appraised value.

According to Katie Gronendyke, press secretary for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, an inspection of the land uncovered the existence of an abandoned underground storage tank.

Gronendyke said if a site cleanup is required the seller must pay remediation costs before the state purchases any land under Massachusetts law.

“[The Division of Marine Fisheries] and the property owner were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on how to address this new circumstance, and as a result, [the Division of Marine Fisheries] has notified the owner that it will not exercise its option to purchase the property,” Gronendyke wrote in an email to Wareham Week.

In January, the state agency negotiated an option to buy the 2.6-acre parcel. Plans moved forward in early March when state and local officials, as well as area sportsmen, visited Selectmen to announce the deal.

Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum said the access point would have been good for the town, but understood the state’s position.

“It’s very unfortunate,” said Teitelbaum. “But with the environmental concerns there’s not much the town can do at this point.”

Comments (25)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 31, 2017 13:05

Now that the cat is out of the bag they can't just leave the tank there! Right next to the river!  It's probably a small heating oil tank because the previous building was a small bait shop.  Underground tanks were very common and small ones don't require a Superfund Site to remove.


Why doesn't someone (the Town) step up and offer to pay to remove the tank?  That seems fair.  Wareham can pay to remove the tank and the state agency can proceed as planned and buy the property.  If this access is such a good idea, it would make sense for this to proceed.  Dig into some of the open space tax that we've all been paying. This wouldn't be the worst use of it.



Posted by: Archangel | May 31, 2017 16:31

Good post, Wareham By The Sea. I agree with you.


Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 31, 2017 18:32

WBTS unfortunately it's a gasoline tank. Whole different ball game.

Posted by: Chaka | May 31, 2017 20:24

Enlighten us if you would, gas tank vs oil tank.


Posted by: totellthetruth | May 31, 2017 20:48

It makes no differenceChaka. Anything petroleum based containsnasty pollutants. Since this area has not been used for at least 40 yrs. I'd say the tank(s) were compromised. Get a hold of the owners of record and make them remove the tanks at their expense. No wonder the blue crabs are so plentiful in the Weweantic.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 31, 2017 22:50

Yep, like TTTT says, both bad.  Bad in different ways.  Gas is explosive, evaporates off surface water but is very bad for groundwater. Plus old gas has lead in it.  Oil is less volatile but it floats and doesn't evaporate, so it is really bad for surface water.


Being so old I question what is in the tank now.  Could it have been pumped empty back then?  If it wasn't pumped empty, what is in there after 40 years? Gasoline changes after a while.  Anybody that has left gas in something for a long time knows that it turns into a gummy varnish that doesn't resemble gas anymore.  Or maybe the tank rotted out and the contents soaked into the ground below.  Old steel tanks do that.


In any event, the tank must be dealt with in one way or another.  Just because the owner couldn't reach an agreement doesn't mean they can forget about it and leave it alone. Like I said earlier, the Town should step in and offer to help in order to keep momentum with this project.  Wareham is getting a nice public access for free.  It seems logical to chip in and use some available funds to take care of the tank.  Otherwise its going to turn into a mess.  The owner may not be able to pay and this will be a long drawn out battle with no happy ending.  Heck, the town may get stuck with it in the end if the owner walks away.  The opportunity for the access will be gone by then.  Might as well work something out now while the opportunity is there.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 01, 2017 10:46

Microbes have probably eaten all the gas by now if the tank leaked.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Jun 01, 2017 11:11

The problem is that nobody really know what they would be getting into. The town shouldn't take responsibility for it. Lord knows what they will find when they try to excavate it.

Posted by: bluebird | Jun 02, 2017 00:51

The town is not getting hte land for free, read the article again, "According to town officials, the owners were willing to sell the land at its appraised value"


The last thing Wareham needs right now is to be saddled with another hazardous waste site, again, check out the article again, the present owner is required by law to clean up the hazards before the Town can purchase the land. Cleaning up this tank and any residue could cost millions of dollars, the Town tells us they are already hurting for money. Should we make more cuts to fund this? Peaches0409 has it right, we don't want to see the Town on the hook for the clean-up costs.


That said, I do think that this idea of creating a launching spot to small boats and off-street parking for fishing is a great idea. But let's do it right!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 02, 2017 09:36

I stated that Wareham would be getting the public access for free, not the land.  Wareham wouldn't have to pay for anything.  The Division of Marine Fisheries was going to buy the land from private owners and build the access.  That means that the state was buying the land and was paying for the access.  Sweet deal for Wareham had they not run into this kink.

Posted by: Kress | Jun 02, 2017 10:41

Nice idea by WBTS but the problem is:  the land is in private hands and the town can't use public funds to improve it. Against the law. Too bad cuz this would be a great spot for public use.

Posted by: brazz | Jun 03, 2017 18:52

So now that we know there is an old tank there what happens? Does everyone get to keep going on about their business or does it have to come out?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 03, 2017 22:53

Brazz, good question.  Thats the first thing that I though of.  One would think that once it's discovered it gets reported to the DEP and the owners are forced to do something.

Posted by: 181mph | Jun 05, 2017 15:03

one would think that, but i had noticed years ago that rules in wareham do not apply to everyone, perhaps that may have changed wbts, but i really doubt it, as that's mostly small town ways in general

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 05, 2017 18:59

Yes, I'm afraid that once all this blows over the tank will be forgotten and nothing will be done about it. The Wareham Conservation Commission should have this matter added to their agenda.  It is their job to persist and make sure it isn't forgotten.

Posted by: 181mph | Jun 06, 2017 14:37

actually with this being right on the river it should be at the forefront of the conservation commission, but again, who owns the land,  i'll bet that's interesting,  wbts, if you had an old fuel tank on your property and someone found out about it, they would have a backhoe digging up your yard post haste

Posted by: Chaka | Jun 06, 2017 20:21

My dealings with conservation agent pichette show a man who doesn't seem to care about such things. I don't think he cares about fuel tanks near water or homes being built on wetlands or hazardous storage on wetlands.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 06, 2017 20:59

181, you got that right.  I'm afraid to let someone see me simply caring for my lawn within 100 feet of a resource area, fearing that I'll get reported to the conservation commission...never mind discovering a tank!  If they found a tank in my yard, there would be an enforcement order and I'd be paying out the nose for backhoe and all the testing, permitting, disposal, engineering, and everything else.


I'm very curious about how this tank will be handled now that the deal fell through.  Like we've said, something has to happen.  They can't just leave it.  With all the concern on pollution and shellfish contamination, etc. It just seems like common sense that the "Town" via its Conservation Commission should follow it through and make the owners clean it up.  I don't want to get too nosey but the DEP in Lakeville should have been made aware as well.  The Wetlands & Waterways Division is located right there.  I'd like to check but I don't want to get wrapped up and end up buried down there with that tank!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 06, 2017 21:24

Chaka, I have dealt with David from time to time.  My dealings with him have not been like yours.  I am not disagreeing with you.  He may have very well been that way for your experiences.  I have found him to be "by-the-book".  That's not necessarily good either because there are some very restrictive and somewhat unrealistic rules that he facilitates.  Anyone that's tried to put up a birdhouse or trim a blade of grass within 100 feet of a resource area knows that!  This matter needs to be presented to the entire commission, not just David.  There's a group of them, they are a team and each has various environmentally fueled passion.  They're a good group of people.  If they all get briefed on this tank, I'm sure one or two will run with it and get something going.


Now that I think about it, I'm sure they know.  Word like this travels.  They all live in town, frequent Town Hall, and must read the paper.  They know.  Can anybody comment on the awareness of this issue?

Posted by: Chaka | Jun 06, 2017 22:44

I've had three bad dealings with him. That sold me.

Posted by: Chaka | Jun 06, 2017 22:47

While I'm at it, I think nazih elkaladdi of the zoning board of appeals is a shady developer. It's like we have a fox "protecting" the henhouse

Posted by: Peter W. Teitelbaum | Jun 06, 2017 23:53

The Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection regulates underground storage tanks.  The Wareham Conservation Commission does not have any jurisdiction over USTs whatsoever.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 07, 2017 07:22

Thanks Peter, I knew they were ultimately responsible.  Does Wareham (via ConCom or other) notify the DEP in cases like this?  In other words, how do we ensure that the DEP knows about this?

Posted by: Joe Leggett | Jun 07, 2017 09:44

From the above article;


"According to Katie Gronendyke, press secretary for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, an inspection of the land uncovered the existence of an abandoned underground storage tank."



MassDEP comes under the EEA umbrela so I would think they would know about this.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 07, 2017 12:26

Thanks Joe, true one would think that the EEA would internally inform the DEP.  Sometimes the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing in agencies like that.  However, I'll be positive and hope that the DEP has been informed and that they will be acting on this matter.

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