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Board of Health Concerned Over Lack of Update on Old Missile Silos Under Northeastern Campus Parking Lot

Northeastern University has been told by the Board of Health to complete a structural integrity analysis of two structures to ensure that vehicles or people are not at risk of falling through the Burlington campus’s parking lot.

The issue arose at last week’s meeting when the department’s Environmental Engineer Christine Mathis provided the board with an update on a set of conditions put on the campus. She explained that before the school built on the site it was home to two Nike missile silos or bunkers meant to protect Boston in the event of an invasion during the Cold War. When Northeastern came before the town for a special permit and a site plan for approval to install the now existing Building 5, the Board of Health placed a few requirements on that project, one of which was an engineering analysis and opinion regarding the structural integrity of each silo or bunker to be conducted by a Massachusetts certified structural engineer every two years.

Northeastern also agreed to cordon off the two silos which it has done by putting up barriers and planting grass over them.

Matthis said the last analysis report had been due in June of 2021 but that Northeastern had failed to supply it, thus prompting the department to bring them before the board.

Paul McAndrew, Senior Project Manager at Northeastern University, said that while he did not want to make excuses, the pandemic coupled with numerous people in senior positions leaving the university, had an impact on getting the analysis completed. However, he said they are making headway and believe they will be able to start by September 1. He said they have a certified engineer, a consultant group and a safety rescue team that will be on site because the silos are closed environments.

“We’re here tonight to let you know we’re on top of things and will move forward with an investigation as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

Members of the board said they were glad to hear that because the silos are a point of concern due to the fact that they are located under the campus’s parking lot and large vehicles such as fire trucks and construction vehicles could strain the covering if they were to go over them.

“We’ve been dealing with these silos for over 20 years, an awfully long time,” Chair Dr. Ed Weiner said. :When Northeastern decided to make changes at the site we were nervous and asked them to do a review every two years to ensure trucks, cars and students that come to Burlington would not fall through the driveway. It’s been three years now since a study was done and that makes me nervous.”

In the end it was agreed to continue the issue until the October meeting of the Board of Health for an update on the report. If the report is finished before then they will table the issue unless the analysis shows further action is required.