Fearing Hill project pollution covered under insurance policy

Oct 4, 2022

The developers of the Fearing Hill solar field said they are prepared to cover the costs of pollution or other damage that may stem from the project’s construction.

The project, discussed by the planning board at their Oct. 3 meeting, is a proposed 20-acre solar field that would sit on 44 acres of land on 91 and 101 Fearing Hill Road. It requires the developer, Wareham MA 3, LLC., to clear-cut much of the forest on the property. 

Since it was first presented to town permitting boards in 2021, the Fearing Hill solar project has seen heavy criticism from town residents concerned with the project’s effect on stormwater runoff and groundwater quality in the area. 

According to Joe Shanahan, who represents applicant Wareham MA 3, LLC., the project will be insured through ConEdison’s general commercial liability policy. Shanahan works for ConEdison, which is a company that develops solar projects across the country.

This policy, said Shanahan, would cover any single instance of damage to surrounding properties for $2 million and would cover aggregate damage for up to $5 million. 

Shanahan added that the company’s insurance policy will cover instances of pollution caused by the project, a clause that is not normally included in ConEdison’s coverage. 

“We will provide the town with a certificate of insurance with those particular coverages certified from the insurance company,” said Shanahan. “And if the town should request it, and if it helps [Planning Board Chair Michael] King sleep better at night, we would add the town of Wareham as an additional insurer on our policy.”

Pollution could include PFAS runoff from materials used to manufacture solar panels, said the Planning Board. PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, are “widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Shanahan said that the developers of the solar project will not be monitoring groundwater for PFAS. Instead, they are prepared to accept the risk of pollution under the ConEdison insurance policy. 

“I believe and am confident that we crossed every T and dotted every I,” said Shanahan, seeking to assuage concerns raised by the board and the public.