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EPA Announces $125 million settlement for cleanup of the Nuclear Metals Superfund Site in Concord, Massachusetts

10/10/2019
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WASHINGTON (October 10, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the filing of a consent decree with the four parties responsible for contamination at the Nuclear Metals Superfund site in Concord, Massachusetts. Under the agreement, the United States, on behalf of the U.S. Army and U.S. Department of Energy, along with Textron Inc. and Whittaker Corporation, will address the cleanup of the site at an estimated cost of approximately $125 million.

“This settlement allows EPA to move forward on the much-needed cleanup of contaminated groundwater, soil and sediment at this site,” said Susan Bodine, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “It’s a good example of EPA’s cleanup enforcement program bringing potentially responsible federal and private parties together to achieve clean up at contaminated sites.”

“This settlement will result in significant progress in our work to address contamination at the Nuclear Metals site and means cleaner water and land for Concord,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “Cleaning up Superfund sites is a top priority for EPA here in New England and is part of the agency’s commitment to protecting community health and ecosystems through our cleanups nationwide.”

Textron and Whittaker will perform the cleanup at the site, with financial contribution from the federal government. The four parties will also pay approximately $400,000 for the EPA’s past cleanup costs at the site, as well as the agency’s costs to oversee the cleanup.

The site, also known as the Starmet Corporation site, includes the 46-acre parcel located at 2229 Main Street in Concord and the surrounding areas where groundwater contamination has migrated. Several prior owners/operators used the site for research and specialized metals manufacturing and were licensed to possess low-level radioactive substances.

From 1958 to 1985, wastes contaminated with depleted uranium, copper, and nitric acid were disposed into an unlined holding basin at the site. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which likely contained 1,4-dioxane as a stabilizer, were used as solvents and degreasers for the cleaning of machines and machined parts/products and discharged through floor drains to an on-site cooling water pond that resulted in contamination of an on-site supply well.

The facility was listed as a Superfund site in 2001, and EPA placed a temporary cover over the holding basin in 2002 to address one of the most immediate risks at the site. Approximately 185,000 square feet of building space was demolished between 2011 and 2017 at a cost of $54 million under a previous agreement with the EPA.

The long-term cleanup plan for the site was selected by EPA in 2015 and generally includes the following components, which will be completed under the proposed agreement:

  • Excavation and off-site disposal of about 82,500 cubic yards of contaminated soils, sediment and debris.
  • Stabilization of depleted uranium contaminated soils in the holding basin.
  • Extraction and treatment of groundwater for VOCs and 1,4-dioxane.
  • Treatment of depleted uranium and natural uranium in groundwater.
  • Long-term monitoring and land use controls.

A portion of the groundwater cleanup was started in 2016 because a plume contaminated with 1,4-dioxane was migrating away from the property under the Assabet River towards the town of Acton’s water supply. The remainder of the groundwater cleanup will be done under the agreement.

The Consent Decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Oct. 9, 2019, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree will be available on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

Site cleanup work can begin upon approval of the consent decree by the court.

For more information on EPA’s cleanup of the Nuclear Metals site visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund/nmi.

Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has reemerged as a priority to fulfill the agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. The Superfund Task Force recommendations and reports can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.

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