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More Tests Set at Paint Superfund Site

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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Federal regulators have agreed to more testing at a New Hampshire tract full of toxic paint waste before approving a final plan for the 23-year-old Superfund site.

The Environmental Protection Agency has green-lighted additional field investigations requested by the General Electric Co., which now owns the old Fletcher’s Paint Works and Storage Facility Superfund Site in Milford, NH.

 Hundreds and hundreds of drums of paint waste and other toxic materials have been removed from the site.

 Photos: US EPA

Hundreds and hundreds of drums of paint waste and other toxic materials have been removed from the site since it was added to the Superfund list in 1989, but a formal cleanup and monitoring plan is still pending.

Consultant Arcadis US Inc. began the field work in April. The new round of testing, announced Friday (May 4), is expected to take about three months.

Additional Information

The new work will include using various types of drilling equipment to collect soil samples and to install five additional groundwater monitoring wells and two pumping wells.

EPA says the new field work should provide more information about three elements of the soil cleanup plan:

• The dewatering rate for the deeper excavation cells at the old storage area;

• Side-wall verification sampling along the proposed vertical excavation supports at the old plant area; and

• Soil characterization to determine the appropriate off-site treatment and/or disposal of the excavated materials.

The soil data will include PCB concentrations and waste characterization data for disposal analysis.  The pump test activities will help determine the rate at which groundwater needs to be extracted to enable the installation of support walls, so that the soils being excavated can be dewatered as much as possible and trucked away for disposal.

“Reducing these uncertainties now could have a significant impact on the sequencing, implementation, schedule and cost of the soil cleanup plan,” EPA said.

40+ Years of Paint Waste

Fletcher’s Paint Works manufactured and sold paints and stains and performed other chemical processing at its Milford plant from 1949 until 1991. The two-acre site consists of three areas:

• The former Paint Works Plant on Elm Street, just west of the town’s center along the southern bank of the Souhegan River;

• A former storage facility on Mill Street, about 700 feet south of the plant next to the Boston and Maine Railroad tracks; and

• A drainage ditch that runs from the storage facility through the Paint Works and into the Souhegan River.

Bulk paint pigments, bagged asbestos, drummed waste and other chemical materials were stored at, and dumped on, the entire site for decades.

Site History

The site is adjacent to three schools and a 10-acre recreation field and is just 1/8th mile from downtown Milford. About 11,400 people within three miles get their drinking water from public and private wells.

In 1984, contamination was discovered in the Keyes well, a municipal water supply in Keyes Park adjacent to the site. The well was shut down and an investigation begun.

 PCBs, heavy metals and other contaminants have been found in nearby river surface waters and groundwater.
PCBs, heavy metals and other contaminants have been found in nearby river surface waters and groundwater.

In 1985, EPA discovered volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, toluene, nickel, lead and other heavy metals in the soils near the plant, in groundwater and in Souhegan River sediments and surface water. High levels of PCBs were also found in the soils around the paint storage building.

In 1988, EPA removed 863 drums from the site and shipped them to an authorized hazardous waste disposal facility. In March 1989, EPA added the property to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites.

In late 1991, EPA’s contractor began a remedial investigation, which was completed in 1994.

Meanwhile, in 1993, the wooden storage shed building was demolished and hundreds more drums and boxes were removed. In 1995, PCB-contaminated soil was removed from three residential properties beside the storage site. More PCB-laced soil was removed in 1996 from the cemetery next to the old plant. The asbestos was removed in 2000.

Cleanup Plan

According to EPA, a cleanup plan for the site was drafted in 1998. In 2009, EPA amended that plan to allow for the excavation and off-site treatment and disposal of the highly contaminated soil. EPA approved a Draft Remedial Design for the soil cleanup on Sept. 30, 2011.

EPA now says that GE will submit its Final Remedial Design to the agency after the upcoming field testing is completed.

 The site is located just a few blocks from downtown Milford, NH, in a densely populated area near schools, homes and commercial properties.
The site is located just a few blocks from downtown Milford, NH, in a densely populated area near schools, homes and commercial properties.

Meanwhile, GE will start building an access road and conducting other site preparation activities this fall.  More details on the cleanup plan are expected this summer.

The site’s Record of Decisions and other key documents are available on EPA’s website.


Tagged categories: Asbestos; Coatings manufacturers; EPA; Hazardous waste; Health and safety; Paint disposal; Regulations

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