It was an all-day event as the DEP held extensive sessions on NNEPRA's Storm Water Runoff Permit request. The permit is required for the construction of the Downeaster's Brunswick Layover Facility. It began at 9:00 a.m. and ended at 8:00 p.m. (with some lunch/dinner breaks). This was the first such public hearing the DEP has ever organized for this type of permit. 

The evening public session, held at the Brunswick Golf Club, brought out nearly two hundred advocates - against and for the permit. Those against feared disruption of their neighborhood due to alleged pollution and flooding and those in favor disputed their fears and emphasized the economic benefits of the expansion.

The Portland Press Herald has a full article on the hearing as well as background information on what has become an intense political dispute. Go here.


While we await the official transcript of the hearing, observers at the proceedings have communicated the following:

1. The opposing neighborhood was weak on science and in one case misled the DEP by using in their illustrations diesel engines which w
ere manufactured in the 50s & 60s (TRN's Counsel Bruce Sleeper pointed out the inconsistency in, according to one observer, a "masterful cross-examination.") 

2. Opponents were concerned about coal ash on the site and charged that dangerous hydrocarbons might still be found in the soil because there had been once been an oil storage tank in the freight yard. Could there still be residual oil in the soil that would drain into the Androscoggin River? "Unlikely," the engineers concluded, as multiple soil tests were taken to a depth of 15 feet without finding any significant pollutants - the tank had been removed some 20 years ago. 

We expect a decision by the DEP by June. After checking with the DEP, their guidance is that the transcript of testimony should be available sometime next week.