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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Smithfield Chemical Company

Removal action at Smithfield Chemical Company, Smithfield, RI

Smithfield Chemical Company operated as a lacquer manufacturer from 1936 to 1961, manufacturing lacquers from nitrocellulose, an extremely flammable chemical used in several different solvents. There were 10 major explosions at the facility resulting in fires. After operations ceased, a final fire destroyed the plant in 1964. The ruins were plowed into one area and covered with fill.

The site is positioned between a town park, the YMCA, and the Smithfield Middle and High schools. The area is frequented by pedestrians that use the park for recreation. It also serves as a short-cut to the high school and a nature trail for the YMCA after school sessions.

An underground storage tank of solvents and associated piping was abandoned and the solvents that remained in the tank were a potential source of contamination to surrounding soils, ground water, and surface water.

EPA sampling documented acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the tank at levels that exceed the state standards.

In December 2003, the RI Department of Environmental Management asked the town, which owned the land, to clean the area and remove the tank. The town hired a contractor to do the clean-up. In early January, 2004, the area was fenced off and restricted to the public. The tank in question, as well as three more tanks found during excavation, were pumped out and removed for disposal. About three cubic yards of contaminated soils were excavated from under the tanks and disposed of.

Samples were taken from the excavation to determine whether contamination has migrated from the underground tanks. DEM worked with the town to remove contaminated soil.

Location: Smithfield, RI
Start date: 01/20/2004
End date: 02/04/2004
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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