May 16, 2023 [Patch]- WILMINGTON, MA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced a proposed consent decree under which four companies will pay approximately $48 million for the cleanup of the contaminated Olin Chemical Superfund Site in Wilmington.
Under the agreement, lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, American Biltrite Inc. NOR-AM Agro LLC, Olin Corporation and Stepan Company will address areas of soil, sediment and surface water contamination on and around the former Olin property —located at 51 Eames Street — and implement an interim cleanup plan for groundwater.
In addition to the site cleanup costs outlined in the consent decree, the four parties also will pay approximately $400,000 for EPA’s past cleanup costs at the approximately 50-acre site and the surrounding areas where contamination has migrated, as well as the agency’s costs to oversee the cleanup.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court, according to the EPA.
“This settlement allows EPA to move forward on the much-needed cleanup of contaminated groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment at this site,” said David Cash, EPA New England regional administrator.
Cash continued: “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. This is also a good example of EPA’s cleanup enforcement program holding potentially responsible parties to account in addressing contaminated sites so taxpayers aren’t stuck with the costs.”
According to the EPA, chemical manufacturing took place at the Eames Street site from 1953 to 1986. Olin Corporation purchased the property in 1980 and used the facility to produce blowing agents, stabilizers, antioxidants and other specialized chemicals for the rubber and plastics industry.
The EPA said that prior to the early 1970s, chemicals were discharged into several unlined pits and ponds on the property. Later, lined lagoons were used, but leaks in the liners resulted in additional releases of fluids.
These wastes moved into the soil and overflowed into streams, eventually reaching the groundwater table, according to the EPA.
Ultimately, contaminated groundwater migrated nearly a mile to the west and northwest of the property. This resulted in the Town of Wilmington placing its municipal drinking water supply wells in the Maple Meadow Brook aquifer offline due to contamination from the site, the EPA said.
The site was regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) prior to 2006. In April of that year, the EPA added the site to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List.
The EPA and state officials developed a cleanup plan for the site in 2021 that included interim actions to remove ongoing sources of contamination in groundwater and final cleanup actions for addressing contaminated soil, sentiments and surface water at the site.
In addition to the cleanup, studies are ongoing to improve the characterization of the bedrock and define the extent of groundwater contamination, the EPA said
The studies, according to the EPA, will be used to evaluate the long-term ground remedial alternatives, leading to the selection of a final cleanup plan for groundwater.
“We are pleased that significant funds will be committed to address contaminated soil, wetlands, and surface and drinking water at and near the Olin site,” said Bonnie Heiple, commissioner of MassDEP.
Heiple continued: “MassDEP’s involvement with the site spans four decades — from early identification and investigation of impacts, to directing removal of impacted soil, drums and debris. We look forward to continuing to work alongside EPA and our federal partners to ensure completion of a thorough cleanup that is protective of Massachusetts residents and resources.”
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