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Cleanup Plan Announced for Iron Horse Park Superfund Site in Billerica, Mass.

Release Date: 08/15/2011
Contact Information: Stacy Greendlinger, (617) 918-1403

(Boston, Mass. – Aug. 15, 2011) – EPA, with support from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, has decided on a sediment cleanup and groundwater monitoring action plan for the Iron Horse Park Superfund Site in Billerica, Mass.  The 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 sediment and groundwater contamination, considering factors such as effectiveness, ability to be implemented, and cost. On-site sediment and groundwater are contaminated with metals, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, and Polychlorinated Biphenyals (PCBs).   As part of its investigations, EPA determined that surface water at the site did not pose any risk to human health or the environment and requires no cleanup action. 

During the fall of 2010, EPA sought public input on the cleanup alternatives during a formal public comment period.  After considering the comments received, EPA decided on a combination sediment removal and monitoring plan that limits disturbance to functioning wetlands that are naturally reducing contamination levels while excavating and removing the highest levels of sediment contamination located in a pond at the site.  The selected approach designed to address moderate ecological risk from contaminated sediment (the sediment contamination does not pose a risk to human health).  The site’s contaminated sediment will be addressed by the following steps:

• Excavating about 7,400 cubic yards of B&M Pond contaminated sediment with on-site or off-site disposal and if necessary, dewatering sediment before disposal.  Restoring impacted wetlands;
• Monitoring natural recovery in Unnamed Brook and associated wetlands;
• Implementing stormwater runoff controls to prevent sediment recontamination;
• Implementing land use restrictions to protect stormwater controls.

An area of contaminated groundwater within the site was found to pose a hypothetical future potential human health risk from consumption.  To address this risk EPA has selected an action plan for groundwater that includes the following steps:

• Monitoring groundwater to ensure contamination doesn’t move beyond an established compliance boundary (located around the existing landfills, railyard, and waste management areas present within the site);
• Implementing land use restrictions to:
- protect monitoring wells;
- restrict contaminated groundwater use within the compliance boundary; and,
- restrict the installation of wells within a buffer zone established between the compliance boundary and the site boundary to prevent contaminated groundwater from being drawn out from the restricted area.

In addition to the specific actions to address the contaminated sediment and groundwater, the overall protectiveness of the cleanup will be assessed at least every 5 years.

EPA will soon begin negotiations with the potentially responsible parties for the performance of the cleanup work. The estimated cost for this cleanup is $5.4 million. EPA will work closely with the Town, interested citizens, and state officials as the project progresses.

The Iron Horse Park site was added to the Superfund National Priority List in 1984.  The approximately 553-acre site’s long history of rail and other industrial and commercial operations continues to this day.  Current operating businesses include a rail operation, lumber companies, and manufacturers.  Portions of the site are undeveloped and include an abundance of wetlands.

EPA’s Iron Horse Park cleanup plan, formerly referred to as the Record of Decision, includes a Responsiveness Summary which responds to the public comments received. 

More information:

The complete cleanup plan can be reviewed online at or at the site’s information repositories:

- Billerica Public Library, 15 Concord Road, 978-671-0948
- EPA Records Center, 5 Post Office Sq. First Floor, Boston, 617-918-1440.

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