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Release Date: 02/23/1998
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617) 918-4154

BOSTON --A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew recently completed the removal of buried capacitors, small electrical components and more than 460 tons of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the yard of a vacant home on Maple Street in Stoughton, Mass.

During the five-month cleanup, which began in August, the EPA packed more than 300 corroded and leaking capacitors containing PCBs into 103 55-gallon drums for removal and incineration. The team also removed more than 460 tons of soil -- some of it highly contaminated with PCB fluid (as high as 390,000 parts per million) -- and small electrical components. The materials will be incinerated, landfilled or recycled at facilities in Texas, Utah and New York.

In 1992, an emergency response team from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection excavated 300 capacitors from the site, and backfilled and temporarily stabilized the site with a plastic cover and two feet of sand. To reduce cleanup costs during the most recent work, the EPA had the non-contaminated sand fill recycled into asphalt batch, rather than having it disposed of as hazardous waste.

"Left unchecked, the high levels of PCB contamination could have spread from this site to the surrounding neighborhood," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office. "Although significant cleanup was done in 1992, substantial contamination remained. I believe this was $547,000 well spent to protect the public's health, local drinking water quality and the environment."

Sampling confirmed that contamination had not spread to adjacent brooks leading to the Brockton Reservoir. During the cleanup, workers installed barriers to protect adjacent wetlands from any spread of contamination. Air samples taken during the excavation showed that safety precautions prevented the spread of dust and PCBs into the air.

The cleanup removed the sources of contamination and reduced the amount of PCBs to acceptable levels. The cleanup crew brought the site back to grade with stone and gravel, and covered it with an impermeable layer of vinyl and clay that will prevent infiltration of precipitation and channel runoff from the site to an adjacent wetland. EPA staff also installed concrete barriers to prevent vehicles from driving off Maple Street onto the site, which is below road level.

"The teamwork displayed by DEP and EPA on this cleanup should let Stoughton residents feel confident that the public health and environmental risks of this site are dramatically reduced," said DEP Commissioner David B. Struhs.

"We commend the EPA staff for its professionalism and the expediency with which they cleaned the site," said Denise Cabral, Stoughton Environmental Affairs Officer.

DEP officials first observed the exposed and improperly stored capacitors on the property in 1992 during a response to an oil spill on the street. DEP officials removed approximately 300 capacitors and temporarily stabilized the site with a plastic cover and two feet of sand. Due to the temporary nature and limited life expectancy of the sand cap, the DEP requested that the EPA evaluate the property to determine the need for additional cleanup.