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EPA Decides on Cleanup Plan for Walpole, Mass. Superfund Site

Release Date: 10/06/2008
Contact Information: Stacy Greendlinger (617) 918-1403

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 6, 2008) – EPA, with support from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, has decided on a cleanup plan for the Blackburn and Union Privileges Superfund site in Walpole, Mass. The cleanup approach is designed to protect public health and the environment at the site.

As required under the Superfund law, EPA evaluated potential cleanup alternatives for addressing the site’s contamination, considering factors such as effectiveness, ability to be implemented, and cost. On-site soil, sediment, and groundwater are contaminated with inorganic chemicals (including asbestos and metals), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well as highly alkaline compounds.

During the summer, EPA sought public input on the cleanup alternatives during a formal public comment period. After considering the comments received, EPA decided on a cleanup plan that includes the following steps:

Groundwater that is currently contaminating surface waters on-site will be collected, treated and discharged on-site;
Groundwater use on-site will be restricted; groundwater will be monitored to ensure contamination is not moving off-site over the long-term;
Contaminated soil from an area of the site east of South Street will be excavated and disposed of off-site;
Contaminated material from the Settling Basin No. 2 Containment Cell (behind the abandoned mill building west of South Street) will be evaluated to determine if it contains hazardous waste; if so, it will be disposed of off-site. Otherwise it will remain safely covered on-site. The remainder of the existing Area of Containment (located west of South Street) including the Neponset River culvert and the soil and asphalt cover, will be remain in place. Long-term maintenance of the culvert and cover will be required as part of the cleanup;
Land use and access restrictions throughout the site will be established;
Contaminated soil and sediment from the Neponset River, Former Mill Tailrace and Lewis Pond will be excavated or dredged; disposal of the material will occur off-site.

EPA will soon begin negotiations with the potentially responsible parties for the performance of the cleanup work. The estimated cost for this cleanup is $13 million. EPA will continue to work closely with the Town, interested citizens, and state officials as the project progresses.

In response to concerns raised during the comment period, EPA is also today announcing it will begin an assessment of potential risks to human health and the environment under the Superfund statute in two areas: the abandoned mill building west of South Street, and soil in an area close to the site adjacent to the Neponset River. EPA will assess whether additional cleanup work under its authority, not provided for in the Record of Decision, is needed.

The Blackburn & Union Privileges site was added to the Superfund National Priority List in 1994. Industrial and commercial processes on the site using chromium, arsenic, and mercury date back to the 1600s. Between 1891 and 1915, the site was used for manufacture of tires, rubber goods, and insulating materials. The crushing of raw asbestos in the manufacture of brake and clutch linings occurred at the site between 1915 and 1937. Various cotton and fabric production processes were conducted at the site from 1937 until 1985.

More information:
EPA’s Blackburn & Union Privileges Web site (