Minutes of the November 14, 2018 meeting of the Council on Environmental Quality held in the Holcombe Room on the fifth floor of 79 Elm Street in Hartford.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Susan Merrow (Chair), Janet Brooks, Alicea Charamut, Karyl Lee Hall, Kip Kolesinskas, Matt Reiser, Charles Vidich

ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Peter Hearn (Executive Director), Rafal Szacilowski (Intern)

At 9:32 AM, Chair Merrow convened the meeting, noting a quorum.

Approval of Agenda

Chair Merrow asked if there were any additions to the agenda. There were none. She asked for a motion to approve the agenda, which was made by Kolesinskas. It was seconded by Hall and approved by all.

Approval of Minutes of October 17, 2018

Chair Merrow asked if there are any changes to the minutes of the October 17, 2018 meeting. None were offered. Vidich motioned to approve the minutes as written. This was seconded by Charamut and approved unanimously.

Chair’s Report

Chair Merrow introduced Rafal Szacilowski, the Council’s intern from Trinity College. She welcomed him and thanked him for the work he has been doing. She invited him to speak about his background and interests. He said he is a senior and in Public Policy and Law with a concentration in Environmental Policy.

Chair Merrow said the two constitutional amendments that were on the November ballot passed. Question Two, which brings transparency to the transfer of public lands by the legislature, passes overwhelmingly. She said there will be a gathering of those who worked in support of Ballot Question 2 at Hammonasset State Park on Sunday.

Citizen Comment Period

No citizens had come to present issues to the Council.

Staff Report

a. Report on University of Connecticut’s (UConn) “Chem Pit” monitoring decision

Chair Merrow reminded the Council that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is weighing a request by UConn to reduce monitoring frequency from semi-annual to annual. Hearn referred to a draft letter to DEEP regarding the decision. It had been sent to the Council for consideration before the meeting. He said that before discussing the letter the Council should see the data from monitoring wells around the UConn Chemical Pit. He asked Rafal Szacilowski to show the charts he had created that depict the levels of contaminants in exceedance of DEEP’s Remediation Standards Regulations (RSRs) for ground water. Rafal Szacilowski showed a number of charts of the exceedances from 2015 – 2018.

Vidich complemented Rafal Szacilowski on the presentation, saying it displayed in an easy to understand format, a large amount of data. He asked that the charts be sent to the Mansfield Conservation Commission and to the Town Supervisor. Chair Merrow said it would be a good idea to include the charts as an attachment to the Council’s letter. Hall said the charts should also appear as a link in the meeting’s minutes when they are published. Reiser asked the source of the data. Hearn said it came from the consultant’s monitoring reports to UConn. Reiser asked if the RSRs were accurate. Hearn said those are the RSRs that were reported by the consultant, but he could check them against the DEEP website. Brooks said the charts should reference the data source and the methodology used to determine which wells and levels to show. Hall said the charts should be published in a PDF format.


Hall and Chair Merrow both asserted that the results do not justify a discontinuation of monitoring at the wells that show exceedances. All agreed that the letter stating that position should be sent to DEEP with copies to those designated earlier.

Discussion followed on other aspects of the landfill and whether drought conditions of the prior years would have affected the levels detected. Vidich offered a detailed description of the system that is employed to capture and divert effluent from the landfill.

b. Watershed conservation network conference

Hearn offered a brief summary of the conference which he, Charamut and Dunbar attended. He said that Attorney Paul Zagorsky offered a detailed critique of the legal points that had been made by some who argue that there is not a public trust in water and that water for consumption is not part of the public trust. He said there is a need to be on guard against legislation in support of that position. He said that Lanette Spranzo explained how the use of Facebook was instrumental in the campaign to halt the Tilcon quarry expansion in New Britain. He briefly summarized comments that had been made at the conference by Charamut, Dunbar, Margaret Miner of the Rivers Alliance, Lou Burch of the Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment and Lori Brown of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.

c. Relocation of CEQ office space within DEEP

Hearn described the new location that is being planned for the Council’s office and reviewed the history behind the decision to move.

Citizen Complaints

Hearn said that of the complaints received, one concerned plans to build a gas station near a community well. He provided the complainant with information from a Council report on Notices of Violation that showed that the highest percentage came from petroleum handling businesses. He said he will report back to the Council if there are developments regarding this issue.

State Agency Actions

a. New CEPA Regulations.

Hearn said that DEEP has published its revisions to the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) Regulations. He said that the Council had commented on the first draft. Many of the Council’s suggestions were accepted and are in the final version. He said the regulations are now at the Attorney General’s Office for review and will go next to the Legislature’s Regulation Review Committee. Charamut said the Regulations Review Committee is scheduled to meet to consider the regulations on December 18, 2108. Hearn showed a chart of how the new regulations will increase the number of notices that appear in the Environmental Monitor. He also displayed a chart of changes that had been recommended by commenters after the first draft was released. It showed which were adopted and which were rejected by DEEP. He said that those which were accepted involved greater transparency for the CEPA process. The rejected ones, generally, were requests to alter some of the timeframes in the regulations or to include more information in Environmental Impact Statements. Charamut and Brooks suggested speaking to DEEP about its expectations regarding the Committee’s review of these regulations, which have been in development since 2002.

b. Siting Council Solicitation about Nutmeg Solar in Enfield

Hearn said this solar energy installation is one of the “grandfathered” proposals that pre-date the requirement of a review by DEEP and the Department of Agriculture. He said the petition is instructive about how topsoil is removed from these sites. He said that a financial guarantee is promised to assure restoration. He said staff has not recommended comments about the project.

c. Blue Plan

Hearn announced that a draft of the Blue Plan for Long Island Sound has been completed and is being circulated to interested parties. He said there were two components to the development of the Blue Plan. The first was to collect data on Long Island Sound’s natural resources and human uses. These were to be compiled on an accessible data base. That phase is complete and is extremely detailed. He said it is an excellent planning tool. Reiser agreed that the degree of detail is comprehensive and well displayed.

Hearn said the second phase is to establish guidelines for users of the Sound to prevent conflicts and damage to the natural environment as much as possible. He said a draft chart of those uses in on the Blue Plan website. He said the final plan is scheduled for completion in March of 2019.

Workload Management

Hearn reported that all the paperwork for an Environmental Analyst Position has been completed and has been sent to DAS and OPM for approval. He said that he has not been given a time when to expect approval. Concern was expressed by many that this needs to happen as soon as possible. Hearn was asked to determine if there is a way to communicate to OPM and DAS the urgency of the situation.

Other Business

Charamut announced that the MDC is asking towns, that haven’t seen its long term sewage control plan, to support an extension of the plan by DEEP.

Merrow reminded the Council that, after the next meeting, it is planned to gather for lunch and she hopes all can attend.

There being no further business, Merrow asked for a motion to adjourn, which was made by Charamut and seconded by Vidich. The meeting adjourned at 11:15 AM