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EPA Starts Work at Polluted East Providence Factory Site

Release Date: 06/15/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617-918-1013)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a fast action plan to secure newly-discovered hazardous chemicals at the former T.D. Mack factory in East Providence and begin a clean up of the site.

The EPA inspected the former chemical repackaging and distribution facility at 51 Dexter Ave. on June 7 with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. In three dilapidated buildings at the old industrial site – two of which were condemned by the city of East Providence in 2000 – inspectors found hundreds of containers of corrosives, poisons, flammables, oxidizers, explosives and a number of unknown chemicals. There were also many empty and unlabeled containers strewn about the site. These hazardous substances are in one-gallon glass jars, 55-gallon drums and 100-gallon plastic totes. Many of them are in different stages of decay.

The hazardous chemicals at the site pose a risk to human health and the environment. There is also a threat of fire or explosion of some of the chemicals. In addition, at the time of the inspection, there was unimpeded access to the site and evidence of recent vandalism at property.

After the inspection, EPA's clean up contractor immediately hired a security company to keep people off the property and out of the buildings. Next week, a fence will be put up around the old industrial site as added security.

Once the site is secure, additional personnel will be brought in to sample material that has spilled or leaked from containers or is on the ground. Leaking containers will be secured and chemicals spilled onto the ground will be placed in secure containers. After that, long-term removal activities will begin.

A final cost for this work has not yet been determined. Any delay in action will mean increased health risks to the nearby population (the closest homes are approximately one-eighth of a mile from the site) and businesses, as well as risks to Omega Pond, the Seekonk River and Narragansett Bay.

In 1997, there was a hydrochloric acid spill at the site, after which the company was cited by RIDEM for various environmental violations. T.D. Mack's mortgage holder foreclosed this spring and the site has been vacant since.