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Here’s how you can submit comment on JBCC's proposed machine gun range

Eve Zuckoff

The Environmental Protection Agency is expanding ways the public can comment on its recent report that found a proposed machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod could contaminate the region’s drinking water and create a significant public health hazard.

This decision comes after, EPA officials said, the agency was inundated with approximately 170 email messages in the first 21 days of the 60-day public comment period.

The Massachusetts Army National Guard proposed the range to cut down on travel time to more distant ranges and improve soldier training. But after members of the public raised concerns about noise, tree clearing, and, most notably, drinking water contamination, the EPA launched a Sole Source Aquifer review and found the proposed project could pollute the water that 220,000 year-round residents on the Cape rely on.

EPA officials are now opening up a phone line and voicemail box for the interested public to share their opinions. The number to call is 617-918-1800.

This comes ahead of a May 24 Public Hearing at the Center for Active Living in Sandwich, where EPA officials are anticipating "high interest."

The meeting will begin with an informational session at 6:30 p.m., and then the formal public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. At the door, people will be asked to sign in and share whether they wish to speak. Those who do, will have their names added to a list, and after the EPA explains the findings of the report, they will be asked to comment for three minutes or less to allow for as many people as possible to speak "within a reasonable time frame," an EPA spokesperson explained.

It could also be an opportunity for officials with the Massachusetts Army National Guard to provide a comment.

"EPA will ask that people focus their comments on potential ground water impacts from the proposed project," the spokesperson continued in an email.

Because of the high turnout expected at the May 24 meeting, officials will also now allow the interested public to live stream the event.

"All comments timely received will be reviewed and considered by the Region, along with other available information," according to an EPA press release. "If, after evaluating this material, EPA's Regional Administrator continues to believe that the proposed project may create a significant public health hazard, he will then forward the information to the EPA Administrator with a recommended conclusion that the project may contaminate the aquifer through the recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health."

The EPA Administrator will then make a final determination.

"Should this determination become final, no commitment of federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be allowed," the EPA said.

To live stream the May 24 public meeting or formal public hearing by Zoom:

Join ZoomGov Meeting : https://usepa.zoomgov.com/j/1605125622?pwd=TXkyY29CNG9vR2tvUEkraWNONm82dz09

Meeting ID: 160 512 5622

Passcode: 29473766

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+16692545252,,1605125622# US (San Jose)

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+1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)

+1 646 828 7666 US (New York)

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Meeting ID: 160 512 5622

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.