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Release Date: 04/08/1997
Contact Information: Arthur Wing, On-Scene Coordinator, (617) 573-5755 Liza Judge, Community Involvement, (617) 918-1067

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection recently completed the removal of 115 cubic yards of dangerous asbestos and other hazardous wastes from the Aztec Industries, Inc. facility in North Brookfield, Mass.

During the cleanup, which occurred from October to January, the EPA removed approximately 1,900 bags of friable asbestos from inside five buildings. The EPA also removed 68 drums, several smaller containers and 500 gallons of used adhesive resins.

"The dedicated efforts of Brookfield officials helped to bring this site to our attention," said John P. DeVillars, EPA-New England regional administrator. "With this work finished, we hope that Brookfield can accomplish its goal of demolishing the old buildings and redeveloping the property for future use."

Earlier in 1996, the North Brookfield Health Agent and other local officials contacted the Mass. DEP to express their concern about asbestos at the facility.

In August, Mass. DEP and EPA inspected the site and found friable asbestos which could easily be broken or pulverized and when damaged releases small fibers into the air. Exposure to these fibers can be associated with lung and breathing problems, cancer and other health problems. Because of Aztec's proximity to residential and commercial neighbors, the EPA authorized $376,000 to remove these hazards from the facility.

During additional investigations, the EPA found five tanks ranging from 1,000 to 12,000 gallons, one above ground and four underground. Under the oversight of the Mass. DEP's Central Regional office, the oil and approximately 2,500 gallons of naphtha, a solvent, and a mixture of naphtha and water, were pumped from the tanks in January.

Dick Chabot, the Chairman of the North Brookfield Board of Selectman said, "The Town of North Brookfield is very grateful for the cooperative effort put forth by EPA and DEP to accomplish the removal of hazardous materials from the Aztec property. We will continue our pursuit to see this property revitalized and put to future use. We understand this is the first stage in the process and look forward to working with these agencies in the same spirit of cooperation in the future as we progress through the next stages of this project."

The Town of North Brookfield is currently evaluating the costs for demolishing the Aztec buildings and expects to include this information in a grant application to the State Department of Housing and Community Development.

"The citizens and officials of North Brookfield can feel confident that the immediate, significant public health and environmental risks from this site have been reduced," said Gail Suchman, director of Mass. DEP's Central Regional office. "This property, at one time an active manufacturing facility that contributed to the local economy, may once again have a future as a valuable asset to the community."

During the asbestos removal, the EPA contained the work areas with plastic and a filtered air system to prevent any spread of asbestos. The EPA also sprayed the asbestos with water to prevent the release of fibers into the air. Frequent air monitoring both inside and outside the buildings confirmed that these safety precautions were effective.

From 1919 to the mid-1980s the facility, which for a time was known as Asbestos Textile Company, manufactured a variety of asbestos-containing friction and textile products and transite board in 14 buildings on the 10 Grove Street property. Over the years, more than half of these buildings were demolished. The facility was abandoned in the 1980s leaving six abandoned buildings in poor condition and asbestos and other wastes on the 5.3 acre property.