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Case Summary: Settlement Reached at Facemate Superfund Site Clears Way for Redevelopment
The settlement agreement concludes litigation between the City of Chicopee and EPA stemming from cleanup actions performed by EPA from 2003-2004. Most importantly, the June 2011 settlement enables the City to move forward with clear title to redevelop the property into a safe, useful resource for the Chicopee community.
EPA agreed to dismiss a pending 2008 federal court case in exchange for the city agreeing to take title to the property, sell a portion of it (13.25 acres), and share the proceeds of the sale with EPA. The proceeds of the sale will be divided according to each party's relative financial contribution to the necessary remediation process at the site. Moreover, all state court cases concerning this property will also be concluded under the terms of the agreement.
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Facemate Corporation bought the Chicopee property from Johnson & Johnson in 1977. The company, just like Johnson & Johnson, manufactured textiles on the property, processing and finishing cotton and synthetic fabrics from unfinished materials. The company operated on the banks of the Chicopee River from 1977 to 2003, at which point it was forced to shut down due to bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings. The property has remained abandoned and vacant since 2003.
The Facemate site is located about 1 mile outside the town of Chicopee Massachusetts and is bordered by the Chicopee River on two sides, an industrial park on a another, and mixed-use residential and commercial properties on the fourth side. There are residences and businesses within 200 feet of the site and the river it borders is a frequented local fishing area. The site has been used for textile manufacturing since the early 1800's. Chicopee Manufacturing was the first to develop the site for this use, and produced and processed cotton cloth there from 1823 to 1915. Johnson & Johnson purchased the property in 1915 and operated it for the same purposes until Facemate purchased it from that company in 1977.
Within the approximately twenty-acre property, three buildings contain drums and tanks of hazardous substances related to manufacturing operations. These substances include dyes, resins and acids for bleaching and treating textiles, as well as chlorinated solvents and lubricants used in the machine shops present on the site. In 2004 after Massachusetts DEP contacted EPA for help with the site, an on-site investigation revealed specifically that drums of acids, bases, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia and ammonium chloride were present. Additionally, due to some vandalism as well as ordinary deterioration of the vacant buildings asbestos containing material (ACM) from leaking roofs had fallen to the floors. Moreover, transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were also discovered in the buildings.
The settlement at the Facemate site accomplishes the common goals of EPA and the City of Chicopee to both cleanup the site and redevelop the property. On one hand, the 2008 federal suit EPA instituted in order to enforce a federal lien that it holds on the property for costs incurred in connection with cleaning up the site, will be dismissed. Concomitantly, the City of Chicopee will take title to the site, sell over half of it, and split the proceeds with EPA. This enables the Agency to recoup some of the cleanup costs it incurred in 2003 and 2004, while the City will retain 6 acres of property which it will develop into an Older Adult Community Center serving the city's residents.
For more information, contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Boston, MA 02109-3912
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460