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EPA Completes First Phase of Environmental Clean-up in Danvers, Mass.

Release Date: 02/08/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Feb. 8, 2007) – EPA has completed the emergency removal at the scene of the Nov. 22, 2006 explosion in Danvers, Mass. Since the early morning explosion, EPA and the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) have worked closely with state and federal health officials to protect public health and reduce the environmental impacts left by the forceful blast and subsequent conflagration.

One week after the blast, EPA assumed lead responsibilities to address the imminent public health hazard by removing the bulk chemical and hazardous waste materials and debris remaining at the site. Now that the imminent risks associated with the site have been addressed, EPA is returning daily responsibility for the site back to the owners. MassDEP will oversee the next phase of cleanup at the former manufacturing facility and address any soil and groundwater issues, which may be identified.

“EPA is proud to complete our cleanup tasks in Danversport,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. “This is an important step towards helping the community get the neighborhood back on its feet.”

MassDEP Acting Commissioner Arleen O’Donnell said, “We appreciate the efforts that have been made by EPA to secure and cleanup the site. MassDEP will continue to oversee actions at this location, to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect public health and the environment, as further assessment and cleanup activities move forward.”

Many drums, totes, vats and tanks containing hazardous materials were exposed to the elements after the blast, presenting an ongoing risk to public health and the environment. Over the past two months, EPA fenced the site, secured, sampled and characterized leaking and damaged drums as well as the other waste and debris, and consolidated and shipped the materials off-site for disposal at EPA permitted facilities. When possible, materials were shipped off-site for recycling.

In total, more than 650 drums, including empty, liquid and solid filled drums, were shipped off-site for disposal. EPA also collected hazardous sludge like material from the footprint of the building and shipped more than 340 cubic yards of the material off-site for disposal. More than 18,000 gallons of liquid were shipped off site for disposal, including contaminated wastewater from the firefighting efforts. Thirteen roll-off containers (approx. 400 tons) of scrap steel were shipped off-site by the owners to be recycled, and 7,500 gallons of flammable liquid recovered from the underground storage tanks were sent to a recycling facility. The total estimated EPA cleanup costs to date are approximately $1.3 million.

Throughout the project, EPA conducted air monitoring to ensure that public health was protected during the removal of hazardous materials from the site. EPA’s air monitoring showed no elevated levels of concern for public health. All of the sampling data was reviewed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Mass. Dept. of Public Health (MDPH). While EPA conducted air monitoring in the work area and at the perimeter of the site, MassDEP conducted air monitoring in the neighborhood.

As the recovery in Danvers continues, MassDEP will be working at the accident scene and around the perimeter in the following manner:

Conduct an "Imminent Hazard Evaluation" to determine to what extent, if any, reduction of the site fencing/security can begin.
Continue to remove remaining debris at the site, ensuring that any hazardous materials (including asbestos containing materials) are identified and properly managed.
Determine the nature and magnitude of groundwater contamination at and near the footprint of the former facility.
Determine the direction of groundwater flow, and potential impacts that could result, with respect to vapor-phase emissions to downgradient buildings, and/or groundwater discharge to the Waters River; and
Determine if there are any "preferred flow paths" currently that could transport contaminants (either aqueous or vapor-phase) from the site to surrounding locations, particularly the residential neighborhood to the north (NOTE: MassDEP has been monitoring the sewer system in this regard, and has not identified an issue to date)

More information: EPA’s clean up efforts at the Danversport Explosion (epa.gov/ne/danvers). In addition, EPA’s administrative record is available for review at the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers.

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