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Location: 140 Firehouse Road, Plymouth MA

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  • Owner:  EJ Pontiff Cranberries, Inc.;  P.A. Landers Trucking excavator

  • Volume of Earth Removed: at least 615,809 Cubic Yards

  • Earth Removal Permit: Yes. Issued by Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals March 6, 2018 and renewed twice to March 2023, for a total of 5 years. ZBA Chair at the time was Peter Conner with Michael Main also on the ZBA with others. ZBA voted 4-1 with Conroy voting to deny the permit. The permit is available here.

  • Area Impacted: 21 acres. Over 11 acres of forest and wetlands; at least 4.5 acres of Priority Habitat for species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Obtained a cranberry bog agricultural waiver from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, NHESP.

  • Claimed Reason for Mining: Cranberry tailwater pond. There is no independent evidence that the pond is sized for the volume of water from Pontiff’s bogs or that the pond is being used and improving water quality in White Island POnd as claimed. Other information: The Site’s prior owner Federal Furnace Cranberry Co. entered into an MOU with MassDEP and EPA to reduce phosphorus by eliminating irrigation return flow discharges into White Island Pond. Federal Furnace Cranberry entered into this MOU in exchange for MassDEP and EPA agreeing to not sue Federal Furnace Cranberry Co.  for polluting White Island Pond. Despite efforts to obtain information from state regulators, local officials and the UMass Cranberry Extension Service there is no evidence that the excavation of this pond for “tail water recovery” has improved water quality. Federal Furnace Cranberry and Pontiff claimed the pond would be used for tail water recovery of irrigation return flows from Pontiff’s bogs. 

  • Solar: Yes. Floating solar approved by Plymouth. See the plans here.

  • Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer: Yes, mining and dredging sand and gravel out of the aquifer for about 5 years. Watch a March 2023 video here.

  • The site is in the Aquifer and Zone II of public water supply wells

  • Wetlands and Waterways: Yes. A wetland on the site was dredged and altered with no Wetlands Protection Act Order of Conditions of approval under the Plymouth Wetlands Protective Bylaw.  The wetlands commercial mining work was not exempt from the law as agriculture.

  • Archaeological Impacts: Unknown

  • Environmental Justice Population: Unknown

  • Ecosystem: Yes, about 4.5 acres of Priority Habitat. NHESP granted a waiver from MESA as an agricultural project. There is no evidence that the mitigation required has been one and the NHESP refuses to respond to requests for confirmation of compliance.

  • Plymouth Carver Sole Source Aquifer: Yes, mining in the Aquifer and Zone II of public water supply wells; up to 50 feet deep to extract sand and gravel.

  • Public Subsidies: Agricultural and solar subsidies. :  E.J. Pontiff Cranberries, Inc. and the affiliated company Cedar Meadow Cranberry received $276,000.00 in MDAR Cranberry Revitalization grants from 2019 through 2022.

  • Blog Link

Related companies and operations:

E.J. Pontiff Cranberries Inc. and related entities have conducted large mining operations throughout the region, particularly in Carver and Plymouth for decades. This is all done under the ruse of cranberry agriculture.  

 

The site’s former owner is Federal Furnace Cranberry Co., Walter E. Morrison III. S Federal Furnace Cranberry is responsible for at least 2.3 to 3 million cubic yards of sand and gravel mining at its site at 104 Tremont Street in Carver.  This is covered in the Carver section of this report. G.Lopes Construction, Inc. conducted the excavation according to statements by Lopes’ site supervisor (May 2022, source available on request). Currently, Federal Furnace Cranberry has leased the site to Sycartha Solar for a large solar project being installed including on part of the the area strip mined.  Federal Furnace Cranberry Co. obtains agricultural grants and sold the 140 Firehouse Road site to E.J. Pontiff Cranberry Co. after entering into the MOU with US EPA and MassDEP agreeing to change bog management practices to improve water quality. The Federal Furnace Cranberry trust was dissolved in 2022. Walter E. Morrison III was recently appointed by the Plymouth Selectboard to the Town’s Conservation Commission. 

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