BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — A state task force recommended that any approval of a new natural gas power plant in Salem should include conditions requiring the current coal and oil-fired facility to be cleaned up and unused buildings demolished.
The Salem Harbor Revitalization Task Force, which was chaired by Richard Sullivan, state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, issued a report Thursday on steps to ensure the cleanup of the 65-acre waterfront site.
Several recommendations were made to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board, which is currently reviewing a request by Footprint Power, the new plant owner, to build a natural-gas power plant.
The task force encouraged the state board “to condition any approval of Footprint’s petition to build a new power plant with a requirement that Footprint Power demolish all existing, unused structures located on the site, including, but not limited to, all oil tanks and smoke stacks.”
In addition, it recommended the state board require “that the site be environmentally remediated to a level consistent with currently expected future uses.”
It also recommended that Footprint be required to meet certain benchmarks by the end of 2016.
“I believe these recommendations ... offer a clear path to remediating the site by Dec. 31, 2016,” said state Rep. John Keenan, a task force member.
Footprint officials have said that they plan to remove oil tanks, demolish buildings they don’t need and clean up the property as part of the development of a new power plant.
The task force, which also included Mayor Kim Driscoll and union representatives from the power plant, was created by legislation drafted by Keenan to address concerns about the future of the Salem plant, which is slated to close next May.
While not mentioning Footprint by name, the task force also concluded that redeveloping the site with a new power plant is “the best means to ensure the full demolition and remediation of the site” by the end of 2016.
Footprint hopes to have a new power plant on line by June 2016.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.