Environmental Protection

Public Gets More Time to Comment on Nyanza Chemical Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a request to extend the public comment period an additional 30 days for the proposed cleanup plan for the Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund site in Ashland, Mass. The comment period will now conclude on August 26.

EPA held informational meetings the week of June 21. A formal hearing will be held on July 19 to receive public comments of the cleanup plan.

The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump site is a 35-acre parcel of land located adjacent to an active industrial complex. From 1917 to 1978, the site was used to produce textile dyes, intermediates, and other products. Nyanza Inc. operated on this site from 1965 until 1978, when it ceased operations. Large volumes of industrial wastewater containing high levels of acids and numerous organic and inorganic chemicals, including mercury, were generated by these companies. Some of the wastes were partially treated and discharged into the Sudbury River through a small stream, referred to as Chemical Brook. Over 45,000 tons of chemical sludges generated by Nyanza's wastewater treatment processes, along with spent solvents and other chemical wastes, were buried onsite. The area that contains the largest amount of buried waste and exposed sludge is referred to as the Hill section. The current owner leases the old plant grounds to various businesses. Approximately 10,000 people live within 3 miles of the site.

The proposed cleanup plan’s key components are:

  • Enhanced Natural Recovery consisting of the addition of a 6-inch layer of sand in a portion of Reach 3 (i.e., Framingham Reservoir 2) with the highest levels of mercury contamination in sediment. The addition of a sand layer effectively accelerates natural recovery processes by which contaminated sediment are normally buried and diluted.
  • Monitored Natural Recovery in other reaches of the river. Throughout much of the river, fish are expected to become safe for regular consumption within a reasonable timeframe through natural recovery and without any active remediation; EPA would continue to take samples to monitor this progress.
  • Limited Action for Reach 8 including monitoring of contamination levels in fish to ensure that they are stable or declining, even if they do not decline to levels that would permit regular consumption by recreational anglers.
  • "Institutional Controls" throughout the river – i.e., community outreach as well as posting and maintenance of signs advising against fish consumption where fish are unsafe for regular consumption. There are currently multiple state fishing advisories due to mercury that are supported by EPA.
  • No Action for Reaches 5 and 7 because there are no unacceptable risks to either a child or an adult recreational angler in these reaches.
  • Reviews will be conducted every five years to evaluate the effectiveness and adequacy of the remedial measure.

Comments, sent no later than Aug. 26, can be sent by mail, e-mail, or fax. Send written comments, postmarked to Daniel Keefe, Project Manager, EPA New England, 5 Post Office Sq, Suite 100 Boston, MA 02109-3912, e-mail comments to keefe.daniel@epa.gov or Fax comments to 617.918.0327.

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