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Release Date: 05/29/2001
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, (617) 918-1064

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified the U.S. Army that it, along with the Starmet Corp. and possibly others, may be financially responsible for the cleanup of contamination at the 2229 Main St. facility in Concord. EPA issued a letter last Friday to formally notify the Army of the potential liability that it has or may have incurred at the Nuclear Metals Inc. property.

"This is the first step in shifting the financial burden of the cleanup from the taxpayers to the companies and others directly responsible for activities that led to widespread contamination at the site," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "For the past several months, we have been reviewing detailed information submitted by prior owners and operators of the site to determine financial responsibility, and I expect more letters to be issued to some of those companies as well."

In its May 25 letter, EPA informed the Army that responsible parties may be obligated to take actions EPA deems necessary to protect public health, welfare and the environment. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (commonly referred to as the Superfund law), responsible parties may be liable for all cleanup costs, including site investigation, planning, and cleanup activities.

EPA issued a similar notice to the current property owner, Starmet (formerly Nuclear Metals), last month and is reviewing documents submitted by other companies and institutions to determine if other parties may also have a financial liability for cleanup of the 46.5-acre property.

EPA informed the Army that it is conducting a preliminary assessment/site investigation to determine if an immediate cleanup is needed in an area where buried drums are suspected. EPA is planning further studies of the property to define the nature and extent of soil, air, surface water and groundwater contamination and to characterize the risk posed by the site. After reviewing the results of these and other studies, EPA will determine a cleanup plan for the site. EPA has spent $185,000 to date assessing the site.

The Army has 45 days to notify EPA in writing of their willingness to participate in future negotiations concerning study and cleanup of the site.

The Nuclear Metals site was proposed for listing on the National Priority List (NPL) last July. It was followed by a 60-day comment period that ended last fall. EPA is reviewing and responding to the comments received and a final decision on listing the site is expected this spring.

Nuclear Metals, located in West Concord, was a research and manufacturing facility contracted by the U.S. Army to produce penetrators, or bullets, using depleted uranium. It ceased manufacturing penetrators for the military in 1999.