Section 14. (a) Upon written petition of ten or more residents of a municipality in which a site is located, or of a municipality potentially affected by a site, the department shall hold a public meeting at a time and location convenient to the affected public, and at such meeting shall present a proposed plan for involving the public in decisions regarding response actions at the site. The department shall inform residents of potentially affected communities of the meeting by causing notice thereof to be published in newspapers that circulate in said communities and by concurrently submitting to said newspapers a press release with the same information. The department shall design the proposed plan to ensure the following: that interested members of the public will have sufficient notice, access to documents and opportunity to comment to enable them to affect decisions regarding response actions at the site; that all public meetings or hearings will be held at locations and times convenient to the affected public; and that public documents regarding the site will be available at locations and at times convenient to the affected public. Following the meeting on the proposed plan, the department shall revise the plan to reflect comments it receives and make it available to the public. The department may, by regulation or order or both, require persons who carry out response actions to carry out the requirements of this section. Nothing in this section shall preclude the department from developing a public participation plan or conducting public meetings or hearings in the absence of a petition, or from requiring persons who carry out response actions to do so.
(b) Subject to appropriation, the department may provide for limited grants to be given to any group of individuals who may be affected by oil or hazardous materials from any site, or to any city or town or agency thereof that might be affected by oil or hazardous materials from any site, or to any district or other body politic that owns or operates a public water supply system that might be affected by oil or hazardous materials from any site. Any recipient of such a grant shall use it to obtain advice and technical assistance on matters relating to handling of sites pursuant to this chapter. The department shall have in effect at all times regulations, which the department may amend or revise from time to time, specifying terms and conditions of eligibility for and use of such grant.
(c) The chief municipal officer of a city or town in which a site is located may appoint from members of the potentially affected public an individual or individuals, to inspect the site on behalf of the community. Such individual or individuals shall be given reasonable opportunities by the department and the site owner or operator, or a fiduciary or secured lender, who has ownership or possession of the site, to inspect such site prior to, during and after the implementation of major response actions, and may bring with them on such inspections experts on oil or hazardous materials releases or responses.