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Release Date: 07/26/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewsky, Press Office, 617-918-1014 Alice Kaufman, Community Affairs, 617-918-1064

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified three additional companies that they may be financially responsible for cleanup costs at the Nuclear Metals Superfund site (also known as the Starmet Site) in Concord, Massachusetts. EPA last week sent letters to Whittaker Corporation, Textron Inc. and MONY Life Insurance Company, similar to letters already sent to Starmet Corporation and the U.S. Army, notifying them of their potential liability.

"These notices say that these companies are going to have to share in the cleanup," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It puts the cost of cleanup onto those who contributed to the problem, rather than the country's taxpayers."

The three companies notified this week are former owners and/or operators of the property. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (commonly referred to as the Superfund law), an owner/operator of a property at the time of contamination may be liable for cleanup costs, including site investigation, planning, and cleanup activities. The companies have 45 days to notify EPA in writing of their willingness to participate in future negotiations concerning study and cleanup of the site.

The 46.5-acre Nuclear Metals Site was a research and manufacturing facility contracted by the U.S. Army to produce penetrators, or bullets, using depleted uranium. It ceased manufacturing penetrators for the military in 1999. The holding basin and groundwater at the site have been contaminated with depleted uranium, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic metals. It is believed most of the contamination of the holding basin occurred after Starmet assumed control of the site in 1972. In June, the site was formally added to EPA's Superfund list of the most contaminated sites in the country being cleaned up under federal supervision.

EPA has spent $185,000 to date assessing the site, and is planning studies of the property to define the nature and extent of soil, air, surface water and groundwater contamination and to characterize the risk posed by the site. EPA is currently investigating claims that there may be buried drums at the site from earlier operations and will begin digging test pits this week in suspect areas in an attempt to locate the drums. After reviewing the results of these and other studies, EPA will determine a cleanup plan for the site.