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EPA Soil Sampling at Allendale School Shows that Ongoing Protections are Working

Release Date: 12/07/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston) - As part of ongoing efforts to protect public health and continue the clean up efforts in Pittsfield, EPA today released the results of surface soil samples collected from the Allendale School playground on Nov. 30th.

Of the twenty samples, the data shows that PCBs were not detected in 18 of the 20 samples. The remaining two samples had PCBs detected at levels of 0.07 parts per million (ppm) and 0.06 ppm. Both samples were more than twenty times below Massachusetts DEP’s standard of 2 ppm for PCBs in residential surface soil.

“The data confirms that soil on the playground is not posing significant risks to children,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator EPA’s New England office. “EPA is taking seriously the concerns raised by the community and is committed to collecting the necessary data to answer the questions that have been raised regarding the ongoing operations of the nearby landfills. We will share all of the data as we receive it.”

Soil samples were collected within the top three inches from the surface of the ground at nineteen locations. A duplicate sample was collected at one location resulting in a total of 20 samples. EPA collected the samples to determine if there were any off-site emissions from the “On Plant Consolidation Areas” (OPCAs) resulting in PCBs being deposited on the previously remediated portion of the Allendale School playground. The data demonstrates that there has been no change in playground soils as a result of six years of operations at the OPCAs. The complete report is available on EPA’s website.

Even as this soil sampling confirms that ongoing measures to protect the health of the community and clean the local area are working, EPA is committed to work aggressively with GE, local and state officials, and the community to continue to evaluate practices at the OPCAs to ensure that the best protection measures are employed.

“EPA’s primary concern in our work, in Pittsfield and elsewhere, is always to ensure that we are both protecting people’s health and ensuring a clean environment,” added Varney. “As we receive additional data, we look forward to a continued dialogue with school officials, parents, teachers and community leaders on how to ensure we are protecting public health and continuing to clean up contaminated areas in Pittsfield.”

Air samples are being collected from the school property today and over the next several weeks. Since meeting with school teachers and parents in early October, EPA has increased the frequency of air monitoring at the perimeter of the OPCAs and assigned a full-time staff person to the project team to oversee the day-to-day activities at the OPCAs.

EPA is also working in close coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which will be sampling the crawl space beneath the school later this month. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, at the request of the City of Pittsfield’s Board of Health, has already begun an investigation inside the school.

The OPCAs were agreed to as part of the Consent Decree entered into by the federal and state governments, the City of Pittsfield, Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and GE in 2000. There are three possible OPCAs at the facility including the pre-existing Hill 78 and the Building 71 location which is a five-acre TSCA / RCRA approved landfill constructed to handle site cleanup waste. GE has been placing material in the Hill 78 OPCA since 1999, beginning with the soil removed during the remediation of the Allendale School playground. GE has been placing material in the lined Building 71 location since 2000. A third location at the intersection of Merrill Road and New York Avenue is allowed for under the Consent Decree, however, GE has not yet proposed to use this location as an OPCA.

As EPA continues to collect additional data to determine whether there are other health concerns at the Allendale School, the Agency will post new data at: .

Related Information:
Cleanup Process
Cleanup in New England
GE/Housatonic River web site