Think about insurance consequences of acquiring 2229 Main Street

June 14, 2024

Regarding the article in the May 31, 2024 Bridge about Starmet’s property reuse, I want to express my ongoing reservations to the acquisition of that land following cleanup. In 2021 I sent two letters to the Select Board regarding the potential liabilities associated with ownership of the 2229 Main Street parcel. In addition, a similar letter early this year to David Ropeik of the 2229 Main Street Advisory Task Force was sent. My reservations regarding liabilities and the costs of insuring the parcel were outlined in detail.

My experience on Concord’s Finance Committee in the mid-1980’s was specific to those concerns. When both the FinCom and Select Board ignored my warnings of an impending municipal insurance crisis, the town ended up in Special Town Meeting November of 1985 to authorize $120,000 additional funds for our town’s annual insurance program. That crisis was a direct result of a New Jersey court’s action to take insurance funds to clean up hazardous material in a municipal landfill, ignoring and overriding the insurer’s pollution exclusions. So, we know what the courts will do.

This is a complex issue, but briefly; the costs of insurance for a (soon to be former) radioactive nuclear waste site and beryllium facility will arguably be considerable. The cost of ongoing engineering inspections to verify continued insurability needs to be understood as well. The possible worst-case downside; lacking insurance for 2229 Main Street will arguably cause the entire Town of Concord to be uninsurable in standard markets, if at all. Police and fire, educators, town officials and employees would conceivably face having no liability insurance protection for their actions, and would be foolish to continue to serve. With the consequences of climate change already weighing on everyone’s insurance expenses, this is not a time to take on a mega-risk.

Nancy P. James

Walden Terrace

Past president, Massachusetts Association of Licensed Insurance Advisers