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Release Date: 08/07/1996
Contact Information: David Lederer, EPA Project Manager; (617) 573-9665 Don Hanson, MADEP Project Manager; (508) 767-2823 Sarah White, EPA Office of Community Relations; (617) 918-1026 Te Leone, MA DEP Office of Public Affairs; (617) 292-5845

BOSTON--After nearly sixteen years of often arduous and difficult negotiations beginning in 1978, one of Massachusetts' major Federal Superfund sites, W.R. Grace in Acton, will complete the cleanup of all known surface sludge and contaminated soils on the property this week.

"Today marks a major step toward protecting public health and improving the quality of life of the people of Acton."said John P. DeVillars, administrator for the EPA's New England office. "EPA and its partners in this cleanup-- local officials and activists, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and W.R. Grace-- have come a long way in preparing this land for beneficial reuse. EPA is dedicated to making the Superfund program faster, fairer and more efficient. And we're making good on that commitment today in Acton."

"This is a major milestone in a long and complex cleanup," said Massachusetts DEP Commissioner David B. Struhs. "It shows that forging a strong partnership between government, business and the community can produce huge strides toward a cleaner environment."

Since September 1994, nearly 175,000 cubic yards of wastes and contaminated soils from 11 on-site source areas have been placed on top of the former on-site industrial landfill. Some of the lightly contaminated soils were place directly in the landfill. The new landfill will be substantially capped over the five months, with final capping operations occurring in the spring of 1997. The impermeable cap prevents water from coming into contact with any of the contaminated wastes and eliminates potential risks to public health. Long-term monitoring of the cap and groundwater will be continued on-site.

The completion of this Phase of the clean-up is the culmination of a comprehensive technical review and oversight partnership by the Town of Acton, the Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) together with ACES, the local citizens group. W.R. Grace, over the last two years, worked closely and in cooperation with this group to produce a model to the rest of the country as to how to remediate a difficult and large Superfund site.

This partnership of government, industry, and citizens will continue into the next phase of the site clean-up. Beginning in June, this partnership entered into talks on the continued clean-up of the groundwater and surface water on and off site. While the groundwater has been continually remediated since the mid-1980's, all concerned have acknowledged that further study and work is necessary to totally remediate this site.

The W.R. Grace site is located off Independence Road in Acton. The site has been used for industrial purposes since the 1800s. Since purchasing the property in 1954, Grace's manufacturing operations at the site produced a variety of liquid, solid, and hazardous substances, which were disposed in eleven source areas on-site. In 1980, all on-site waste disposal operations at the facility ceased and in early 1982, Grace discontinued its organic chemical division, the primary source of hazardous wastes generated at the site.

In 1983, this site was included on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), making it eligible for federal cleanup funds. EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 1989, describing the selected clean-up plan for contamination on-site. This ROD also established clean-up goals for each disposal source.

The EPA and the MADEP encourage the public to be fully informed about the work at the W.R. Grace site. EPA continues to publish information updates and press releases periodically to inform the community about the progress and milestones on superfund sites. EPA currently maintains a site mailing list of over 600 addresses. For more information contact David Lederer, EPA Project Manager at (617) 573-9665 or Don Hanson, MA DEP Project Manager at (508) 767-2823.