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EPA Begins $900,000 Cleanup of Metal-Plating Shop in Merrimac, Mass.

Release Date: 04/07/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has begun a $900,000 cleanup of a former metal-plating shop in Merrimac, Mass. EPA has already repaired locks and windows at the Coastal Metals Finishing facility to prevent unauthorized access and over the next three months will be removing and properly disposing of hazardous chemicals left at the site.

The site is a metal plating facility on Littles Court owned and formerly operated by Coastal Metals Finishing Inc. It includes a single story, double height industrial warehouse with an attached two-story office located on a 1.3 acre site.

By February 2002, the company had ceased operations, at which point, the Merrimac Fire Department, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and EPA inspected the building. EPA determined that there was no immediate threat because the building was being maintained by the owners. One year later, in February, 2003, the fire department notified EPA that the building was no longer being maintained and was in poor shape, with no heat, power, or water for fire suppression. An inspection by EPA revealed significant amounts of hazardous materials, including strong acids and bases, toxic metals, and cyanide-containing compounds. The materials were not safely stored, and the deterioration of the building created additional risk of fire, explosion, and release of toxic substances.

"With the condition of the building, this site has unfortunately become a real hazard," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "We're moving quickly to remove the danger to the neighborhood."

In addition to securing the site to prevent public access, EPA contractors have moved some of the materials within the building to reduce the risk of dangerous interactions. EPA is currently working to repair the building in order to restore utility service, and will then identify, pack, and dispose of all hazardous chemicals in the building. The entire cleanup is expected to take three months.