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EPA Completes Review of Cleanup Progress at Tibbetts Road Superfund Site

Release Date: 10/30/2003
Contact Information: Neil Handler, EPA Site Manager, 617-918-1334 Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs, 617-918-1064

Boston--The United States Environmental Protection Agency completed a review of the cleanup remedy at the Tibbetts Road Superfund Site in Barrington, New Hampshire, confirming that progress is being made in the cleanup of the site and that the soil and groundwater remedies already in place at the site continue to be protective of human health and the environment.

The study, or five-year review, was a comprehensive evaluation of the actions taken to date by EPA, the state of New Hampshire, Ford Motor Company, and the Swains Lake Village Water District to address the soil and groundwater contamination at and around the site.

Actions taken at the site include the:

    • installation of an alternate water supply for approximately 50 residences,
    • enactment of a local ordinance restricting the use of groundwater near the site,
    • removal and disposal of several hundred drums,
    • treatment of contaminated groundwater and soil,
    • planting more than 1,600 poplar trees to help control the flow of contaminated groundwater, and
    • long-term monitoring of groundwater conditions beneath and around the site.
From around 1944 to 1958, drums containing wastes from industrial processes, primarily automobile production and painting, were brought to the Tibbetts Road Superfund site for storage and use by the property owner. Many of the drums were later found to have leaked and released their contents, primarily thinners, solvents, PCBs and other hazardous materials on to the ground and into the groundwater, posing a threat to the local drinking water supply. In 1984, EPA removed several hundred deteriorating drums and in 1986, EPA designated the two-acre site a Superfund site.

EPA issued a cleanup decision for the site, called a Record of Decision, in 1992 which required that contaminated groundwater, both shallow and deep, be extracted and treated. From 1995 -1997 EPA operated a vacuum extraction system at the site to treat groundwater and soil. During this time, approximately 800 pounds of contaminants were removed. The system was shut down in 1997 because it was not longer needed.

EPA amended the Record of Decision in 1998 to address the remaining groundwater contamination through bioremediation and phytoremediation. Approximately 1,600 hybrid poplar trees were planted at the site in 1998. Poplar trees are known for their ability to take up large amounts of groundwater, thereby reducing the rate at which groundwater and contaminants can flow away from the site. Bioremediation, or the use of naturally occurring organisms to break down contaminants, will help to reduce the remaining contamination found in the groundwater beneath the site. A groundwater monitoring program is in place to determine the effectiveness of bioremediation and phytoremediation in achieving the cleanup levels identified in the Record of Decision.

The results of the five-year review have shown that the cleanup remedy is functioning as intended and that there has been a reduction in the overall level of contamination at the site. The levels of volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) found in the shallow groundwater, which historically has shown some of the highest concentrations, are now at or approaching the cleanup levels identified in the Record of Decision. A small portion of the weathered bedrock located to the northeast of the site has shown less progress in achieving the required cleanup levels and EPA is currently evaluating potential methods for accelerating the cleanup of this area.

The five year review report, as well as additional information about cleanup activities at the site can be found on EPAs website at: EPA technical reports and documents are also available for public review in the site information repository located at the Barrington Public Library, 39 Province Lane in Barrington, NH.