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Two Year Clean Up of Salem's Witchcraft Heights Superfund Site Completed

Release Date: 10/14/04
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2004; Release # 04-10-23

BOSTON -- Officials and residents of Salem today celebrated the completion of a two-year Superfund project to remove toxic contaminants from the community's Witchcraft Heights neighborhood.

The EPA-lead project involved removing more than 12,000 tons of soil contaminated with arsenic from 21 homes and an elementary school in the Witchcraft Heights neighborhood. The project cost nearly two million dollars and was completed under EPA's ongoing Superfund program, which identifies and cleans areas throughout the United States that contain toxic contamination.

The two year cleanup was a collaborative effort, utilizing significant resources and expertise provided by EPA, along with contributions from state and local agencies and elected officials.

"By working together, we accomplish more than we can alone," remarked Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. "EPA'’s Superfund Program has helped many communities in New England, and throughout the nation, to reclaim areas that once were subjected to toxic pollution. I am proud to return this area to the people of Salem so that it may again be an integral part of the local community."

The community undertook major renovations at the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, beginning in June 2002. During construction, tannery waste with high levels of arsenic was discovered, triggering the need for more intensive site testing and clean up activities. During the course of the clean up, federal and local officials worked directly with affected residents and sought to keep the immediate community informed and involved in the clean up process.

As part of this completed Superfund project, EPA collected almost 1,700 individual soil samples from 57 nearby residential properties in order to accurately define the extent of arsenic contamination. More than 4,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed from 21 properties. The contaminated soil was then shipped to secure landfills for safe disposal.

Concurrent with EPA's residential cleanup, the City of Salem actively addressed arsenic-contaminated soil at the school. This effort between the city and EPA also involved significant soil testing, followed by removal and appropriate disposal of more than 8,000 tons of arsenic contaminated soil.

EPA's Superfund program identifies and cleans up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Since 1980, EPA has located and analyzed tens of thousands of hazardous waste sites, protected people and the environment from contamination at the worst sites, and involved others in cleanup. More information on Superfund activities within New England is available at: .

Related Information:
Cleanup Process
Cleanup in New England