WOBURN – Pending a review by City Hall of various revised details of the project, the Town Planning Council recently continued a public hearing on a proposed company expansion until next week. Pharmaceuticals on Cabot Road.
At their last virtual meeting, officials appointed on the advice of planning director Tina Cassidy voted unanimously to revisit the Continnus Pharmaceuticals petition until next Tuesday.
Last July, when planners first considered the petition, Cassidy noted that various department heads had filed a series of questions about the expansion, which included the storage and disposal of various chemicals and materials. dangerous during the drug manufacturing process.
Although the petitioner has since addressed most of these issues with revised site plans, explanations of hazardous material procedures and additional technical details on stormwater treatment, the planning director argued that it took longer to examine these materials.
âThe comments that the Planning Council received from various municipal departments ranged from questions about the nature and quantity of materials to be used as part of the manufacturing process to design to prevent contamination of groundwater given the proximity of the building. project with the Industripex site â, Cassidy, referring to the last ministerial review of the summer, explained during the last meeting.
âAdditional information was submitted to this office last Tuesday, but to date we have only received one response from [department heads]. For this reason, at the end of tonight’s discussion, I will recommend that council continue with the public hearing.
Woburn-based startup, a 2012 spin-off of a research joint venture between MIT and Novartis, seeks permission to quintuple the size of manufacturing space in a two-story building at 32 Cabot Road off Commerce Way. Under the proposal, which will allow the company to mass-produce drugs and vaccines, the production area would increase from 7,440 square feet to 37,728 square feet.
Continnus officials, who operate two other engineering and research and development facilities in Woburn, also want to build a 7,000 square foot addition and “utility” structure to store vehicles and warehouse equipment on. the site of more than six acres.
The proposed reconfiguration of the two-story office building to allow for a greater mix of manufacturing space is permitted via a special permit in the underlying industrial zoning district.
As city planning council considers this aspect of the petition, city council is considering concurrent applications for a special permit to allow what is considered “high risk” use in a groundwater protection district.
The Cabot Road facility, a 50,000 square foot building that can be seen by passers-by on Commerce Way, sits between the redevelopment of Woburn Village and the sprawling Industriplex Superfund site that stretches to the Wilmington Line.
During the last public hearing, Planning Council member James Callahan continued to ask questions about the petitioner’s use of a rear loading dock and a new chemical storage area located outside the proposed new addition.
The use of these hazardous materials is critical to the entire business plan of Continuus Pharmaceuticals as the company attempts to reduce domestic dependence on overseas supply chains by manufacturing top drugs. from start to finish at the new production site in Woburn.
If the city granted it the necessary special permits, the Cabot Road factory would become the only place in the world where pharmaceuticals could be mass-produced from start to finish without depending on the importation of so-called “active pharmaceutical ingredients.” Or API.
While various city officials have praised this mission in light of disruptions to the global supply chain, Callahan and others want to ensure Continuus’ expansion includes the appropriate emergency systems to prevent a catastrophic release of chemicals into surrounding wetlands.
âMy questions at the last meeting were about the valves and various controls for this valve. How do they interact to avoid an accidental leak in our waterways?â¦ The global plan with which I have no problem. I am concerned about the hazardous materials leaving the site, âsaid the member of the planning board at the last meeting.
According to Joe Weed, the petitioner’s civil engineer, all stormwater from the loading dock and chemical waste areas will be collected, then tested or visually inspected before being discharged into the larger stormwater treatment system in the city. property.
As a safety measure, he and the project’s design director, Ed Flagg, later explained that an emergency shut-off valve is also located at the rear of the site to prevent any spills from flowing into storm water collection area during delivery, storage or disposal of chemicals. of.
âWhere the loading dock is, that will be our containment area for all of our hazardous materials,â Flagg said. “Any spill will go to this loading dock and any time there is a movement of material, these valves will be locked.”