Asbestos, Other Hazards Removed from Walpole, Mass. Superfund Site

EPA completed a short-term cleanup removing asbestos from the former mill building and hazardous substances in drums and containers on the Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund Site, in Walpole, Mass.

Nearly 30 tons of asbestos and asbestos containing debris, as well as more than 2,700 pounds of hazardous materials and waste oils were removed from the site. The removal work, conducted by EPA's contractor with EPA oversight, began in June 2009 and concluded in October 2009.

Although EPA found the former mill building structurally adequate, the lack of a fire suppression system coupled with the disrepair of the roof and many windows and the presence of asbestos and hazardous substances in drums and containers presented a health threat to anyone on the site and may have posed additional risks in the event of a fire.

All visible friable asbestos and asbestos-containing material was removed and trucked in sealed containers to a licensed landfill. The abandoned drums and containers containing lead, volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, and ignitable and corrosive wastes were removed and disposed of at a licensed facility.

EPA conducted air monitoring throughout the removal effort to ensure the safety of its workers and the surrounding community. No asbestos fibers were detected outside of the former mill building by the air monitors during the removal action.

The Blackburn & Union Privileges site was added to the Superfund "National Priority List" in 1994. Industrial and commercial processes on the site date back to the 1600s. Between 1891 and 1915, the site was used for manufacture of tires, rubber goods, and insulating materials. The crushing of raw asbestos in the manufacture of brake and clutch linings occurred at the site between 1915 and 1937. Various cotton and fabric production processes were conducted at the site from 1937 until 1985.

After considering public comments, in September 2008 EPA decided on an overall site cleanup plan. The cleanup plan includes these major components: removal of Neponset River and Lewis Pond contaminated sediment; cleanup of contaminated on-site soil; cleanup of on-site groundwater which could pollute local surface water; restriction on future uses of the South Street on-site properties. EPA is currently negotiating with the potentially responsible parties that owned facilities and/or operated at the site for the performance of the cleanup work.

For more information on Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund site, visit www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/Blackburn.

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