Environmental study on Tilcon proposal heads to state councils

Published on Tuesday, 6 March 2018 20:21
Written by LISA BACKUS


NEW BRITAIN - The two state agencies required to review the 500-page environmental report on the proposed Tilcon mining project have 90 days to produce their comments on the study to the city.

The clock began ticking when the report was released Feb. 28. The state Council on Environmental Quality decided last week to appoint a sub-committee of two members to review the findings. The entire council will review the findings during the council’s next meeting on April 25.

During a meeting Tuesday, the state Water Planning Council decided to have staff from each of the state agencies represented on the council review the report.

The council is made up of one representative each from the state Department of Health, the state Department of Energy and the Environment, the state Office of Policy and Management and the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

“We’re under a tight window,” said Council Chairman John Betkoski, the vice chair of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The council plans on discussing the results of the review during its May 1 meeting, Betkoski said.

The city of New Britain is required to post the review by both agencies on the city’s website no later than 15 days after the comments have been received. The city is required to hold a public hearing on the plan no later than 30 days after the comments have been received.

The WPC in consultation with the CEQ must provide the General Assembly’s Environment Committee and Public Health Committee the study, their findings on the study and a summary of public comment on the study within 60 days of the public hearing.

The study can be found on the city’s website at .

Representatives of Tilcon have already told state legislators that they will not have anything pertaining to the project on the legislative agenda this session.

The project would require a legislative change in land use to allow Tilcon to use 131 acres of protected watershed that leads to the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir. Tilcon would give the quarry back to the city as a reservoir when the mining is complete in 35 to 40 years. The new reservoir would nearly double the city’s available water supply, the study done by Lenard Engineering said.

The report also indicates that species of salamanders and box turtles would likely be destroyed as well as several other mammals, birds and amphibians that live in the vernal pools and other wetlands where the mining would occur.

The mining would take place on about 70 acres of the parcel in Plainville, which includes 13.63 acres of Class I protected wetlands and 111 acres of Class II wetlands which act as tributaries to the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir.

The 500-page report concluded that the water quality from the mined reservoir would be the same as the water quality of the city’s existing supply and that state species of concern such as the Eastern box turtle might be able to be “relocated” otherwise they would perish.

The plan would also reroute the Metacomet Trail on Bradley Mountain and likely cause the denigration of bird breeding grounds and other animals in the area, the study said.

Former Central Connecticut State University President Richard Judd and Plainville Attorney Paul Zagorsky told the council Tuesday the study was “inadequate.”

“It’s supposed to be an environmental study, but it only refers to the environment in 30 pages of the environmental study,” Zagorsky said. “Four hundred seventy pages pertain to what we can do to help Tilcon get their approval for the project.”

Judd said endangered species of bats were not mentioned in the report and dozens of mammals and other wildlife that live in the area were not documented. “This report is a disaster in terms of the water supply for the area,” Judd said.

Both New Britain residents are involved with Protect Our Watersheds CT, a group formed in 2016 after the proposal was touted by Tilcon and city officials.

The group plans on seeking biologists and other scientists to review the report and submitted their findings to the CEQ and WPC, Judd said.

“When the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir was built in the 1900s, there was a massive amount of industry in the area,” Judd said. “That industry no longer exists, the projections for water use in this report need to reflect that.”

Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or .

Posted in The Bristol Press, General News, Plainville, Southington Herald, on Tuesday, 6 March 2018 20:21. Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2018 20:24.