$13M Settlement Will Help Expedite Walpole, Mass. Site Cleanup

W.R. Grace & Co., and Tyco Healthcare Group, former site owners, will work with BIM Investment and Shaffer Realty Nominee Trust, current owners, to dredge soil, treat groundwater, and perform long-term monitoring.

A $13 million work 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 parties involved in the settlement include W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn., a former owner and operator of the site; Tyco Healthcare Group, also a 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 East & West of South Street, in the Former Mill Tailrace, along the Neponset River, and within Lewis Pond;
  • 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.

Under the agreement, 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.

“This settlement adheres to the 'polluter pays' principle central to EPA’s Superfund program,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This is good news for the local community and for the American taxpayer. The work will protect public health and the environment.”

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 1937 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 past response costs associated with the site, as well as for all future oversight costs up to $2 million.

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.

The consent decree was entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Dec. 21, 2010.