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Release Date: 11/21/1996
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will begin removing 4,000 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil next month from a former junkyard on Northwest Road in Spencer.

Under the cleanup plan, field teams will transport seven piles of ash residue left over from a massive tire fire at Joe's Junkyard in 1986 to a DEP-approved lined landfill. The residue consists of a mixture of tire ash and soil containing lead, zinc and other contaminants.

"It's high time we remedied this situation that for too long has posed a public health threat to Spencer residents," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England office. "Together with the Massachusetts DEP, we plan on ridding the neighborhood of this public eyesore."

"This cleanup is another example of how combined state and federal efforts can produce wuick and effective results," said Gail Suchman, regional director of the DEP's Worcester Regional Office. "People living in this neighborhood should not have to worry that their health or their drinking water are being threatened by contamination from this site, amnd now they won't have to."

The contaminated soil poses a public health threat to people trespassing on the unfenced property. The site, which sits in a residential area, could also taint the underlying groundwater that many local residents use as a drinking water source.

The EPA became involved with the cleanup in September after taking soil samples that showed elevated lead levels in the site's soil. The EPA and DEP have been working jointly to identify properties that contain hazardous waste or hazardous materials and to target sites for removal to reduce immediate risks to public health and the environment. In June, the DEP recommended to the EPA that Joe's Junkyard be targeted for cleanup.

The EPA has budgeted $102,000 for the cleanup, which is expected to last up to three months. The DEP has committed $35,000 for the removal. The DEP has already spent nearly $500,000 on assessment and remediation at this site.

Joe's Junkyard is a five-acre parcel of property that operated as an automobile salvage yard from 1962 through 1992. In 1986 a fire at the junkyard burned out of control for six days, consuming an estimated 1.5 million tires and numerous automobiles.