Conservation Commission To Pay Remainder of Oil Spill Insurance Costs

The board agreed to pay the $3,565 remaining in costs on last December's oil spill at the East Boston Camps.


The Westford Conservation Commission has agreed to pay $3,565 toward the cost of last year’s emergency oil spill at the East Boston Camps following their meeting on Wednesday night.

Of the $11,000 in damages , most of it was covered by the insurance of East Boston Camps caretaker George Fletcher, who caused the spill when diesel fuel leaked out of his tractor and onto trails at the camp and on the way to his home on Plain Road.

The incident could not go out to bid due to the urgent nature of the cleanup.

During the agenda item on the topic, the board also discussed whether the town’s insurance should have been involved in helping to pay off the debt, or whether Fletcher’s role as an independent contractor absolved the town of responsibility in that aspect.

Although policies may change at some point in the future, the board agreed to pay for the remainder of the cleanup from the Land Management account and a rotating fund approved by the 2011 Town Meeting that will begin at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2012, which occurs on July 1.  

Patrick Henry June 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Strange!! the individual, who contacted MA DEP to file a complaint, is complaining about the end results. Without DEP involvement the spillage could have been corrected for a couple thousand dollars. BTW FY13 begins on 1 July 2012. The CC does not have authority to spend FY13 money until 1 July. Don't blame George if his insurance did not cover the clean up. Like most government agencies the DEP is not satisfied with the 98% solution. Take the perchlorate issue that the federal RPA states in very strong terms that it is not a problem. The quivering BoS, TM and the Water Commissioners have stuck the town with a $4 million and counting bill for a series of exorcism exercises.
Dick June 29, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I believe the spill went unreported till a resident came upon it. If it wasn't, it would have been another 'Wink and nod' fiasco up there.
June McMorrow June 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Patrick Henry, I disagree with you. I believe that had George Fletcher, the caretaker of the property reported his mistake when he made it, this would never have played out like this. I am the individual who asked the all knowing Forumites if anyone knew what had happened? I walked the North Road, no more than 30 minutes after the accident. The stench was overwhelming from the time I got out of my truck down by the railroad tracks until I got to the bottom of the hill where there is a short section of pavement. In addition, I had also come upon another woman who warned me that she had fallen in something slippery on the road tearing her pants and staining her clothes and shoes with an unknown substance.......hhhhmmmm, fuel perhaps? No, this was more than a just a few gallons of fuel, seriously. I was there at the scene of the crime and you were not.
Chris Daley June 29, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Accidents happen. George Fletcher is one of Westford's best citizens and public servants. Enough already.
Martin Luther June 29, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Read the DEP report. The amount of fuel spilled was not reportable to the DEP by its regulations. But give a bureaucrat an opportunity to justify his/her position and it will be accepted. Let NO Spill Go Unused in the advance of Government oversight. Your friend with an ax to grind against the caretaker could have reported the spill to the Police Department which would have involved the Fire Dept. and the Conservation Dept. Spill cleaned for a small amount of money and resources. Do a grandstand play, the DEP gets involved although the size of the spill was not reportable by their regulations.
R Gagnon June 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM
I reported the incident to the police and fire department at first light the day after the caretaker contracted by the ConsCom (lets forget for a second that its "one of Westford's best citizens and public servants"). When I went back that day at noon, I found speedy dry spread for about 20 feet on the hill where the spill began. Down by the bog there were a few booms about 12 ft long and 3 inches in diameter intended to keep the rain water (it was raining that day) from reaching the bog. If you saw the report that Bill Turner distributed, you would have seen the spill went on for about 1750 ft. The initial response to this by the town was completely inadequate and obviously intended to downplay the fact that the caretaker has once again done harm to EBC. But this time, rather than let buildings and utilities fall into disrepair, he allowed the natural resources that purchase was supposed to protect fall into harms way. I called the DEP and they forced the town to do the right thing and clean it up. I am very happy with THAT outcome. But the town shouldn't pick up the tab for the carelesstaker's dereliction of duty or lack of quality insurance.
R Gagnon June 29, 2012 at 11:22 AM
to Jesse James: If you have a copy of a DEP report where the DEP gave an estimate of how much oil was actually spilled, I would love to see it. All the information that I have regarding how much was spilled came from the caretaker. He had a vested interest in underestimating the amount of fuel he spilled. He said it was no more than 4 gallons. I say that it would take much more than 4 gallons to spread that much fuel for a distance if 1750 feet. I saw the mess myself after the caretaker drove away from it and before the cleanup activities began. There was no way that I was going to let the ConsCom and George sweep this under the rug. Actually, there was no way they could have. Given the amount of fuel visible on the ground and the overwhelming stench of the fuel, if it wasn't me who reported it to the DEP, it would have been somebody else. I'm quite sure that anyone whop actually saw the mess he left behind that day would agree.
R Gagnon June 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Anybody can have an accident. Its what the person does about it that determines if he actually is "one of Westford's best citizens and public servants". You may have missed one very important aspect of the spill he caused. He siimply drove away from it. I don't think that a contractor who does such a thing fits your description.
William Bonney June 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Anything that costs more town money I am all for. In fact I now sit around and look for government mandates to force Westford to spend that money its so cheap and tight fisted with. Oil spills, elevators, there are others to soak up some of this excess wealth here in town. Why you ask? There are some residents in town who tweak out over government and money to the point I just like to see them squirm and sweat. I go to town meetings just to see one get his panties all twisted in a bunch, to each his own but I like the expensive through way more than the cheaper quick fix
Patrick Henry June 29, 2012 at 09:12 PM
" I called the DEP and they forced the town to do the right thing and clean it up. I am very happy with THAT outcome." The right thing to do would have been to let the town handle it. According to the Patch there was a total of 4 gallons of fuel spilled and DEP requires a spill to be greater than 10 gallons. The 4 gallons wound up requiring at least five 42 gallon drums to satisfy the DEP desires. "But the town shouldn't pick up the tab for the carelesstaker's dereliction of duty or lack of quality insurance." Please note that the money in these revolving accounts is "Not Town Money" generated by taxes and fees so you have nothing to complain about. I find hard to believe that 4 gallons of diesel covered 1750 feet and spilled into Burges pond since the photo in the WP showed the incident by the gate, next to the parking lot, leading to the Boys Camp I believe that you should end the vendetta that you have against the caretaker. Furthermore, please provide a copy of the referenced report. When I inquired about the report about 6 months ago I was told that such a report was never filed.
Patrick Henry June 29, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Reading these posts, it appears that R Gagnon and June M estimate that there were at least 1000 gallons which would make it a significant spill. The problem that I have is a farm piece of equipment usually carries less than 15 gallons. The caretaker had been working for several hours so even a 15 gallon tank would have used up at least 50% of a full tank or ~7.5 gals. Since the caretaker drove the equipment home, it had to have at least 0.5 gallons which means that the maximum spill would have been less than 7 gallons. So June and Rich give up. George is a good guy who has served the town well in many capacities.
June McMorrow June 30, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Dear Sir, I believe that you, Patrick Henry, Thomas Aquinas and Jesse James are one and the same. What will you be calling yourself next, Winston Churchill? George Washington? I believe that I know who you are. I am quite fond of you and you know it. You are very bright and articulate and you ought to have the temerity to speak openly using your own name. As for your assertion that I estimated the spill was made up of 1000 gallons, where and when did I ever say or write that? As for my personal vendetta against Mr. George Fletcher, that is rubbish and you know it. You know me better than to accuse me of that. As for Mr. George Fletcher being a good guy, that is really not what this is all about. This is about doing the right thing, about owning up to your mistake so it can be corrected in an expeditious manner, unlike the small child who has his hand caught in the cookie jar. How do you know that this $ 3565 came from a revolving account? Really, if not from the taxpayers then where did the money come from? Buried Treasure perhaps? Love your nails!
Sams June 30, 2012 at 12:59 AM
PH-TA and JJ are same public spending Armageddon is around the corner Wedtford watchdog of Forge. I think ol George and Rob Crergsn are both Westford patriots and deserve thanks in their own way
June McMorrow June 30, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I meant to say the testicular fortitude, not temerity. Pardon me, I erred in this.
June McMorrow June 30, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Dear SAMs, Is that Son of Sam? Westford Patriots? Huh? Check out this video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Patrick Henry June 30, 2012 at 03:12 AM
It was stated in the WP story. When people start talking out testicles, it makes males shake in fear. American males have been emasculated over the last 30 years by vicious and vociferous females. I use a pseudonym, much like Thomas Payne, so I can survive in Forge Village. George did the right thing and report it. The individual that called the DEP rather than the Town Manager, Chairman of the CC or the BoS because he felt that the PD, FD and Highway Dept. were not responding fast enough or using the proper protocols is the party that is guilty of the needlessly spending "Town Money".
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Okay guys, settle down.
June McMorrow June 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Ok dad!
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 01, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I guess that explains why I got that tie for father's day!
R Gagnon July 01, 2012 at 10:19 AM
PH, George did not report the spill. George drove away from it and said nothing about it. I saw the mess he caused. While it was something less than 1000 gallons, I do believe it was something more than 4. I saw oil floating on top of the rainwater and washing off the road into the woods for the entire length of the spill (approx 1750 ft). That's why I called the DEP. I felt the wetlands and bog were threatened by his mess. I believe it was the right thing to do at the time. I would do it again. It should have never cost the town any money. It was the contractor George's mess. It was his responsibility. Unless of course the ConsCom comes to his rescue again.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 01, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Patrick, The word "1,000 gallons" was never mentioned in the original story. I recommend you check again. You may have confused it with "1,500 feet," which was in the story. P.S. - Kids read these stories. Everybody, please keep your language PG-13.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 01, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Also, one more thing: the clean up was in those large gallons because the actual oil made up a very small portion of the material cleaned up, dirt and other materials used to soak up the liquid was also in those barrels. Again, that was in the original story, although I apologize that I may not have said it clearly enough there.
Martin Luther July 01, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Depending on their DNA, they do. I recall an individual enlisting a group of WA students to repair cabins at EBC. Certainly, a worthwhile undertaking. One problem asbestos was encountered and disposed without notification to town authorities. The adult individual never even had his hands slapped.
Martin Luther July 01, 2012 at 05:06 PM
After reading the various posts, I must agree with PH. There is a vendetta that some people are pursuing against George. In one post by RG, the statement was made that the town had taken action to remediate the spill. Another post by RG, implies that RG had been the first person to report the spill to the town. MA DEP requires the report of spill in excess of 10 gallons. Otherwise, all the homeowners who spill a teaspoon of fuel while refueling their lawn mowers would inundate the DEP with reports. RG You escalated the problem to the DEP for the sole reason of sticking it to George. Have the "Intestinal fortitude" to admit it and move on.
June McMorrow July 01, 2012 at 07:02 PM
My Dear Jesse James, We all know that you, Patrick Henry and Thomas Aquinas are one and the same. It is therefore not permissible that you pile on in an effort to run up the score. You don't live in Forge Village either, so stop fabricating personal facts. You know, many of us know exactly who you are. As for the vendetta, I think that you have been reading too many Tom Clancy books and watching too much Law and Order.
R Gagnon July 02, 2012 at 10:45 AM
JJ, I heard about it the evening that the spill happened. The following day I was there at first light, saw the mess, then called the Westford PD at around 7:20AM that morning and they notified the FD. I escorted a member of the FD to the start of the spill then I went to work. I went back during my lunch break at noon. I found the town's response was not what I thought was adequate for the size of the spill. It warranted a lot more than a little speedy dri and some little absorbant pads. Also, after talking with Bill Turner of the ConsCom, I knew they were relying on George's estimate to determine the amount of the spill. I've been watching what's going on around EBC for some time now. Certain people have a long track record of embellishing the positive and downplaying the negative. Based on what I saw, oil floating on top of the rainwater and washing off the side of the road towards woods and wetlands, I thought this was probably another case of the latter. So, it was a combination of actually seeing the spill for myself and my distrust of certain people that prompted me to call the DEP for an objective opinion on the matter. I have not made any contradictory statements here nor do I have a personal vendetta against anybody. But, when I see someone missleading the tax payers and breaking rules that the rest of us have to follow then doing harm to the facility or environment in which it sits and driving away from it, I will call them on it regardless of who it is.
Martin Luther July 04, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I believe that you and the caretaker are not on speaking terms; therefore, who reported the spill to you rather than the WPD or WFD? Did this individual observed the caretaker leaving the scene of the spill? Why did this individual not report the spill to the WPD or WFD? Why did you wait until the next morning to report the spill to the WFD? When you returned at noon and were dissatisfied with the clean up effort, why did you not contact the WPD, WFD or the Town Manager?
R Gagnon July 06, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Another Westford citizen called me on the evening of the spill. She had been walking along the north road and met someone who had slipped and fallen on the spilled oil. I can't speak for the person who told me about the mess. She called me because she was concerned about it but was unsure what to do about it. I waited until I could see it for myself before deciding what I should do. I did go to the Westford PD and FD first thing the next morning. Do you think that repeating the process at noon would have yielded different results? You think watching the oil washing into the woods while Westford sits on its thumbs would have been a better idea? Why do you keep asking me to explain myself? Why don't you go to George Fletcher and ask him to explain himself? After all, he is the guy who caused the mess in the first place. Why didn't HE report it rather than just driving away from it? Go ask the ConsCom why they are helping George cover the cost of the clean up when any other contractor would be held responsible for it? I didn't make the mess. George did that. I saw to it that an objective authority, one who has no interest in covering George's behind, had oversight of the project. I'm glad I did and I would do it again.
R Gagnon July 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I tried to answer your questions but it did not get posted for whatever reason. Rather than ask me the same questions over and over, why don't you ask George why HE drove away from it and HE didn't do anything about it? I did what I felt was right at the time. Given the same circumstances, I would do it again.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 06, 2012 at 07:54 PM
R Gagnon, I've turned off auto-approved comments due to some complaints I got about the tone in here. When auto-approve is turned off, comments have to wait until I can approve, which can take time since I have about a dozen other things on my plate at any given point. I thought I had mentioned this here, I apologize for that.


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