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2000-02-27
Merrimack, NH. Home Depot's Hazardous Waste Tub

Residents in the small town of Merrimack, New Hampshire have good reason to feel like they got taken for a bath. Last March, the town's Planning Board approved a Home Depot project on undeveloped land that happens to sit on top of the town's acquifer. In approving the store, the Board came up with 22 conditions on the project, including one provision that calls for Home Depot to build concrete floors that are impervious to contaminents, plus a containment berm at least six inches high around the store, to keep hazardous materials inside the Depot from mixing with the town's nearby water supply. Home Depot accepted these conditions, but now says they can't comply with the berm around the store, according to the Merrimack Telegraph newspaper. The berm would interfere with the store's handicapped access, Home Depot says. Instead, Home Depot has proposed that the company build a 276,000 gallon "large, sloping bathtub" inside the store, and a containment facility in the truck pit area. Local residents who attended the Home Depot hearing, felt the company was not coming clean with this unusual proposal for an enormous sloping containment "bathtub". "You should hold them stringently to those conditions," said one angry resident. "If they can't meet them, tough luck." Another resident added: "You have a responsibility for the drinking water in this town. I don't really think you know how important the drinking water is." Late in the evening, after more than an hour of debate, the Planning Board voted to have their town engineer review Home Depot's plans. Residents told Sprawl-Busters that the agenda item was not even listed on the meeting notice, and they were tipped off to go to the meeting. The Planning Board opened the meeting up to resident's comments after it seemed apparent that the issue of hazardous materials was not getting enough emphasis from the Board.

What you can do: A 276,000 bathtub to hold a hazardous materials spill inside the store? Many Planning Boards do not know that Home Depot has had two major fires in its facilities, in Tempe, Arizona, and Quincy, Massachusetts. Both were multi-million fires and involved hazardous materials. (see Home Towns, not Home Depot article). Local communities are becoming increasingly concerned about retail stores that have in stock large supplies of hazardous materials, especially when such stores are proposed in watershed protection areas or acquifers. In this case, residents appeared to be headed for a hosing, and only alert citizens prevented the "bathtub" idea from being approved on the spot. Local officials seemed to be "in the tank" with Home Depot.










 
 
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