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Release Date: 03/16/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA's Community Affairs Office (617) 918-1064 Peter Deveau, Executive Director, Lynn EDIC, (781) 581-9399

BOSTON - Nearly $730,000 in federal cleanup and brownfields dollars will pave the way for future use of two abandoned properties in Lynn, Massachusetts, the New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. EPA recently completed a $500,000 cleanup of the Carr Leather building, located at 500 Boston Street, and a $28,000 cleanup at Empire Laundry, located at 33-35 Myrtle Street, advancing Lynn's redevelopment plans for both properties.

The city of Lynn has hired The Johnson Company, an environmental consulting firm in Montpelier, Vermont, to evaluate the potential redevelopment options for both properties using a $200,000 EPA Brownfields Grant awarded to the city in 1997.

Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by pollution. EPA's Brownfields Grants are directed to the identification and assessment of these sites for development.

"This is a great example of how federal resources and local initiative can help revitalize Lynn's economy and improve the environment at the same time," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England administrator. "We have worked closely with Peter DeVeau, Rick Ford and Richard Fortucci during the cleanup of these sites and I want to thank them for their continued efforts in Lynn's neighborhoods."

U.S. Rep. John Tierney has been instrumental in securing funds for future redevelopment projects like these in Lynn.

"This is welcome news," said U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Salem). "Restoring these properties to a condition suitable for future use is an important part of the continued revitalization of Lynn. I commend John DeVillars, Peter DeVeau, Rick Ford, Richard Fortucci and the people who live in these neighborhoods for their efforts in making sure these properties were properly cleaned up. I look forward to continuing to help similar, ongoing efforts in other parts of Lynn."

"This brownfields pilot has really developed a consensus in the community and the surrounding neighborhoods that, given the proper resources, the properties can have a second life and contribute to revitalization of a city that is extremely land poor," said Peter DeVeau, director of Lynn's Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn.) "Without the support of our delegation in securing these cleanup funds our program was in jeopardy. There is a real effective collaboration ongoing in Lynn between the city, EPA, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the residents of these neighborhoods."

Lynn Ward 7 City Councillor Rick Ford credited the work of both EDIC/Lynn and EPA at the two sites. "Their quick action in removing these hazardous substances eliminated a potential danger to the surrounding neighborhoods. I look forward to the successful completion of the Brownfields Pilot Program in the near future."

"EPA is a valuable economic partner for the city of Lynn," said Richard Fortucci, Lynn city assessor. "Their removal of hazardous materials, along with providing site assessment funding, is critical to the redevelopment of Carr Leather and Empire Laundry."

In June 1998, EPA inspected the Carr Leather building and found tannery-related hazardous substances including sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, formic acid, and other chemicals. EPA repackaged hundreds of deteriorating drums and containers discovered inside the building and shipped the hazardous materials to licensed disposal facilities.

Based on historical city records, the 48,000 square foot building was used as a tannery facility from 1887 to 1996. The Carr Leather Company purchased the site in 1977, and continued to use the facility as a tannery. The company declared bankruptcy in 1996, leaving behind drums and pails containing hazardous substances and bags of dry chemicals.

At the Empire Laundry facility, EPA discovered approximately 15 abandoned, deteriorated, labeled and unlabeled drums of various sizes containing potassium hydroxide and methyl alcohol and other toxic chemicals. EPA repackaged the drum contents and other hazardous materials, including asbestos, and shipped the wastes to licensed disposal facilities.

The Empire Laundry property consists of a two-story, 30,000 square foot concrete structure, a 900 square foot single-single story maintenance garage, and a paved parking area. City records indicate that the Empire Laundry Company ran the facility from 1925 to 1977. In 1996, the city of Lynn foreclosed on the property for tax purposes. The property is currently unoccupied.

A public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 18 at 7:00 PM at the Thompson School at 115 Gardiner Street in West Lynn to discuss the cleanup of these sites and future brownfields activities.