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Release Date: 12/16/1996
Contact Information: Liza Judge, Community Involvement, (6717) 573-9644 Dan Burke, On-Scene Coordinator, (617) 573-9626

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection announced today that a cleanup crew recently removed 72 drums of flammable and corrosive chemicals from a former woodworking facility in the Baldwinville section of Templeton, Mass.

The EPA used $140,000 in federal funds to clean up the old Woodskill Company Building and surrounding two acres of property on Gardner Road. The situation was initially reported to the Massachusetts DEP by Templeton officials who were concerned about the site posing a fire and safety hazard to neighborhood residents.

"The people of Templeton are well served by their local officials who are on the lookout to protect public safety," said EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars. "EPA has prevented a potentially dangerous situation in Templeton, and turns federal dollars into action in many other New England towns and cities. This was $140,000 well spent."

On Aug. 13, an EPA cleanup crew began testing and stabilizing the 135 on site containers, which were found to contain solvents, stains, and lacquers. Some of the liquids also contained levels of nitrocellulose, a highly flammable wood finish.

A fire at the building could have threatened neighborhood residents, especially since sprinklers inside the Woodskill Building were inoperable. In addition, runoff water from firefighting efforts could have posed an ecological risk to the nearby Otter River.

Because many of the smaller containers contained compatible wastes, the 135 containers were consolidated into 72 drums, reducing costs for shipment and disposal. On Oct. 31, the drums were loaded into trucks and taken for appropriate disposal.

Last spring, Templeton Fire Chief Richard Paine and a representative from the Templeton Board of Health discovered the containers during a routine inspection of the facility. Concerned about the fire and safety hazard, the officials contacted the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to request assistance. After conducting a joint inspection with the Massachusetts DEP in May, the EPA determined that a removal was necessary.

In addition to the EPA drum removal, the Mass. DEP has ordered the property's owner to address the ongoing release of oil from a 330 gallon above-ground heating oil storage tank.

"The materials left on this property presented a very serious public safety and environmental risk," said Gail Suchman, director of the DEP's Central Regional office. "With the cooperation and assistance of the EPA and local officials, we were able to quickly remove the immediate threat posed by these drums of chemicals."

From 1965 to 1994, the Woodskill Company milled, assembled and finished furniture at the property. The facility consists of a large two-story building and two smaller buildings. Private homes, railroad tracks and a wetland border the site, with the wetland discharging to the Otter River.

From 1987 to 1994, Mass. DEP officials visited the site and issued several notices of noncompliance to the Woodskill Company because of improper use, storage and reporting of chemicals, as well as air emissions violations.