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EPA Decision Brings Former Watertown Arsenal One Step Closer to Removal from Superfund Program

Release Date: 10/18/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2005; Release # sr051011

(Boston) – The US Environmental Protection Agency recently issued the Final Closeout Report in which the agency determined all cleanup actions at the Army Materials Technology Laboratory (AMTL) Superfund site undertaken by the US Army have been implemented and are working successfully. The report focuses on the Outdoor Areas Parcel and the Area I Parcel.

For the Charles River Operable Unit it was determined in the Record of Decision signed September 30, 2005 that no further cleanup action is needed. This decision is based on the determination that no threat to human health and the environment is attributable to the site. As part of the No Further Action Record of Decision, in spring 2006 the Army agreed to undertake a wetland restoration project which involves expansion of the wetlands adjacent to Squibnocket Park in order to stabilize the bank, control erosion, and further enhance the wetland.

"This milestone was achieved as a direct result of a collaborative effort between the community, the regulators and the Army,” said Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. “The recent agreement by the Army to conduct a major bank restoration project at Charles River Park is a great example of the successful team effort by local citizens, including the tireless work of the members of the Restoration Advisory Board, who provided extensive input into the project that resulted in an invaluable service and resource to the community."

With the issuance of the Final Closeout Report and the No Further Action Record of Decision, EPA expects to issue a notice of its intent to delete AMTL from the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2006. Former areas of the AMTL Superfund Site were deleted from the NPL in September 1999, namely, the Watertown Arsenal Development Corporation Parcel and the Commanders Quarters Parcel. The General Services Administration (GSA) property, an area close to the site but not part of the AMTL Site, is not affected by the Final Closeout Report. The GSA cleanup is nearing completion and is being overseen by MA Department of Environmental Protection.

The NPL known commonly as Superfund, represents hazardous waste sites throughout the country that are in most need of long-term clean up due to risk concerns for human health and the environment. Superfund makes public funds available to clean up toxic waste sites when private financing is unavailable.

The AMTL facility was established in 1816 and was originally used for the storage, cleaning, repair, and issuance of small arms. During the mid-1800s, the mission was expanded to include ammunition and pyrotechnics production; materials testing and experimentation with paints, lubricants, and cartridges; and the manufacture of breech loading steel guns and cartridges for field and siege guns. The mission, staff, and facilities continued to expand until after World War II, at which time the facility encompassed 131 acres, including 53 buildings and structures, and employed 10,000 people. Arms manufacturing continued until an operational phasedown was initiated in 1967. In 1960, the Army's first material research nuclear reactor was completed at AMTL. The reactor was used actively in molecular and atomic structure research activities until 1970 when it was deactivated; it was decommissioned in 1992 and demolished in 1994. AMTL was officially closed in 1995. Contaminants of concern included: polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, semi-volatiles and volatile organics, and pesticides.

The Final Close Out Report and the Charles River Operable Unit Record of Decision documents are available for public review at the Watertown Free Public Library, (617)-972-6431, at the EPA’s Boston Records Center, 617-918-1440, and are posted on-line.

Related Information:
Watertown Arsenal Site Fact Sheet
Superfund in New England
Cleanup Process
Cleanup in New England