Former, Current Owners to Pay for Cleanup at Walpole Superfund Site

A $13 million settlement has been reached between four parties and the United States to expedite cleanup of the contaminated Blackburn and Union Privileges Superfund Site in Walpole, Mass., the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency announced recently.

The parties involved in the settlement include W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn., a former owner and operator of the site; Tyco Healthcare Group, also former owner and operator; as well as BIM Investment Corp. and Shaffer Realty Nominee Trust, the current owners.

Under the settlement, the four parties will, among other things:

  • excavate and dredge contaminated soil and sediment;
  • treat contaminated groundwater that poses a risk to surface waters;
  • establish land use restrictions for the site; and
  • perform long-term monitoring of soils, sediment and groundwater.

The private parties will be required to maintain the cap and culvert, and perform engineering studies needed to ensure the long-term integrity of the structures.

The site, which was listed on the National Priorities List in 1994, includes about 21 parcels of land. The Neponset River runs through the 22-acre site, which has been used for commercial and industrial purposes since the 1700s. From about 1915 to 1936, a predecessor of W.R. Grace manufactured asbestos brake linings and clutch linings on a large portion of the property. From 1946 to about 1983, a predecessor of Tyco Healthcare operated a cotton fabric manufacturing business, which used caustic solutions, on a portion of the property.

As a result of these operations, soils, sediment and groundwater are contaminated with inorganic chemicals, including asbestos and metals, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and highly alkaline compounds.

The group will reimburse the federal government for the $1.4 million in response costs associated with the site, as well as for all future oversight costs up to $2 million.

The consent decree, lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval. The consent decree has already been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware as part of W.R. Grace’s pending bankruptcy proceeding.

During a cleanup in the early 1990s, Grace consolidated asbestos-contaminated soils and sediments and installed a cap and containment cell at the site. In addition, a culvert was installed along the Neponset River to prevent the erosion of asbestos contaminated soils along the banks of the river.

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