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Lee, the only town getting a PCB dump, withdraws from 5-town Housatonic River committee

A lawn sign in Lee, Massachusetts, designed by Reed Anderson of Great Barrington, calls for no local dumps for PCB waste from General Electric.
Nancy Eve Cohen
/
NEPM
A lawn sign in Lee, Massachusetts, designed by Reed Anderson of Great Barrington, calls for no local dumps for PCB waste from General Electric.

The Select Board in Lee, Massachusetts, has announced the town will withdraw from a committee of four other river towns focused on the clean up of the Housatonic River.

Great Barrington, Lenox, Sheffield and Stockbridge also have representatives on the committee.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's clean up plan includes a toxic waste disposal facility in Lee. That plan was mediated behind closed doors in 2020 by the municipal committee, along with General Electric which contaminated the river, the EPA and others.

Since then, two new people represent Lee on the committee, including Select Board Chair Bob Jones. He said Lee is often out-voted by the others towns, which aren't getting a PCB dump.

In a letter announcing Lee is leaving the committee, Jones and the rest of the Select Board demanded payment of nearly $25.4 million which includes $25 million G.E. gave to Lee as part of the cleanup deal.

"We decided to ask for that money so that we can pursue what we think is best for the town of Lee. We're going to do it independently," Jones said.

Thomas Matuszko, who chairs the municipal committee, did not respond to a request for comment. Matuszko is also the executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.

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