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News Releases from Region 01

Amesbury, Mass. Site Proposed to EPA's National Priorities List

Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an Amesbury, Mass. site to the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is a national list of sites that require further investigation and potential cleanup in order to protect human health and the environment in the long term. The site being proposed to the NPL is the former Microfab Inc. facility, which used to manufacture printed circuit boards, and included electroplating operations.

The Microfab Inc. site is a 14-acre site located at 104 Haverhill Street in Amesbury, Mass. Microfab Inc.'s mismanagement of hazardous materials left heavy metal and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contamination behind when it closed in 1989.

In the fall of 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) requested that the Microfab Inc. site be evaluated by EPA for the National Priorities List. Since then, EPA, MassDEP and the Town of Amesbury have been working together to evaluate conditions at the site, as well as working with the community and state to garner support of the proposed listing. Proposal of the site to the NPL begins a 60-day public comment period. Following review of comments, EPA will make a final determination on this proposed listing.

"Proposing this site to the national Superfund list is the first step to allow EPA to address the contamination. Superfund has been very effective at cleaning contaminated lands across the country, and ensuring cleaner and healthier communities," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

"A partnership between EPA, Mass DEP, the City of Amesbury and local residents continues to work towards a solution for cleaning up this long-abandoned property," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "MassDEP has expended significant resources to remediate portions of the site, but a Superfund designation by EPA is now the best option to address the serious contamination issues that remain."

"Thanks to the hard work of the EPA, Mass. DEP, and city staff members like Bill Scott and Tom Barrasso, a site that has burdened Amesbury for decades is another step closer to remediation. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the EPA and Mass. DEP as we proceed toward a solution," said Mayor Ken Gray of Amesbury, Mass.

EPA adds sites to the NPL when mismanagement of contamination threatens public health and the environment. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement at a site because states, tribes or citizens ask for the agency's help. The agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.

Superfund cleanups benefit the health of those who live on or near Superfund sites. Academic research has shown these cleanups reduce birth defects close to a site by as much as 25 percent.

When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, it frequently returns to beneficial uses. More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway. Cleanups increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup. EPA reviewed 454 Superfund sites supporting use or reuse activities. The agency found at the end of fiscal year 2015 that these sites had approximately 3,900 businesses with 108,000 employees and annual sales of more than $29 billion.

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners at every site by establishing an effective process to fully explore future uses before the cleanup remedy’s selection. This approach gives EPA the best chance of ensuring remedies are consistent with a site’s likely future use.  

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites (www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites)

For information about Superfund and the NPL (www.epa.gov/superfund)