O.B. greenlights lighthouse excavation

Coast Guard set to begin East Chop soil remediation project Jan. 18.

A map showing lead concentrations in the soil and a proposed chainlink fence. Coast Guard contractor Renova Environmental Co. plans to start a soil removal project on Jan. 18. — courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The Oak Bluffs select board voted unanimously on Tuesday to grant U.S. Coast Guard contractors access to town land in order to facilitate the removal of lead-contaminated soil. Following testing last year, which corroborated and in some spots amplified testing in years prior, Coast Guard contractor Renova Environmental Co. found that lead polluted the soil around the lighthouse. East Chop Lighthouse, an active navigation beacon, is a federal property on a small plot of land inside town-owned Telegraph Hill Park. Through Renova, the Coast Guard intends to excavate and ship to a facility in Bourne some 250 tons of lead-contaminated soil. The excavation will mainly be on the federal parcel the lighthouse sits on; however, it will include some small pieces of the town park that border the lighthouse parcel. One bordering piece evidenced the highest lead level Renova found — 16,600 ppm (parts per million)

At the select board meeting, chair Brian Packish expected to hear from Jason Hagerty, a member of the Coast Guard’s engineering unit in Rhode Island, but he appeared to have vanished from the Zoom once the board reached the lighthouse agenda item.

Assistant town administrator Wendy Brough provided an overview of what was being sought from the board. “I think this is the third agreement for the U.S. Coast Guard to access the town parcel around the East Chop Lighthouse,” Brough said. “This is in response to the testing they did for any lead from the lighthouse painting. And now they’re at the soil remediation phase, where they want to come in around Jan. 18 for the next couple of months …”

Per Renova’s remediation plan and the Coast Guard license agreement, Renova would get access from Jan. 18 to March 24. Renova intends to install a chainlink fence around the jobsite, and will stockpile impacted soil temporarily before it’s taken away. 

“Following excavation of all impacted soil and upon confirmation that all soil sampling results are below the EPA soil lead hazard level of 400 mg/kg, excavations will be backfilled to rough grade using clean fill material from an outside source,” the plan states. The areas will then be capped with topsoil and hydroseeded, the plan states.

Oak Bluffs parks and recreation commissioner Antone Lima asked the board for a copy of the plan. 

“The parks department is just kind of looking for an update on this,” Lima said. “We haven’t received anything as of Friday, when we last checked … Could that report be sent to us, being that this is parks land, and we should probably be involved with what’s happening there?”

Brough said she would send the report to the parks department “right now.”

Brough said she did “touch in” with the health board and the conservation commission, “who have reviewed the full study,” and OK’ed the project to proceed.


  1. Curious if this is going to be able to be done by the time our summer visitors are here?? Would be nice if they can finally access the lighthouse or get married there….. thanks for all the work being done and being so vigilant…. 🙂

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