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  MATERIALS TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY (USARMY)


Map this site in Cleanups in My Community
 Watertown,  Massachusetts
 Middlesex County
 Street Address: Off of O US HWY 20/N. Beacon Street
 Zip Code: 02172
 Congressional
 District(s):

07
 EPA ID #: MA0213820939
 Site ID #: 0100953
 Site Aliases: Watertown Arsenal, Army Materials Technology Laboratory

 Site Responsibility: Federal

 NPL LISTING HISTORY
 Proposed Date 06/23/1993
 Final Date 05/31/1994
  Deleted Date 11/21/2006

Site Description
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The Materials Technology Laboratory (USARMY) (MTL) site occupies approximately 47 acres, on the north bank of the Charles River, approximately 5 miles west of Boston. There is a private drinking water well located 2 miles northwest of the property. The municipal drinking water within 4 miles of the site is supplied by surface water sources located to the west of MTL and is unaffected by the site. The Charles River is used for recreational boating, and fishing. The facility was established in 1816 by President James Madison, and was originally used for the storage, cleaning, repair, and issuance of small arms. During the mid-1800's, the mission was expanded to include ammunition and pyrotechnics production; materials testing and experimentation with paints, lubricants, and cartridges; and the manufacture of breech loading steel guns and cartridges for field and siege guns. The mission, staff, and facilities continued to expand until after World War II, at which time the facility encompassed 131 acres, including 53 buildings and structures, and employed 10,000 people. Arms manufacturing continued until an operational phasedown was initiated in 1967. In 1968, GSA sold approximately 55 acres to the Town of Watertown. This property was subsequently used for the construction of apartment buildings, the Arsenal Mall, and a public park and playground. MTL contains 15 major buildings and 15 associated structures. In 1960, the Army's first material research nuclear reactor was completed at MTL. The reactor was used actively in molecular and atomic structure research activities until 1970, when it was deactivated. The research reactor was decommissioned under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1992 and the structure was demolished in 1994. At the time of the operational phasedown, much of the MTL property was transferred to General Services Administration (GSA). In 1987, the U.S. Army Toxic and Hazardous Material Agency (THAMA) initiated preliminary site studies, the first stage of the facility's closure plan. In late 1988, Congress officially recommended the closure of the facility which was completed in the fall of 1995. Remediation on a 36.5-acre parcel of the site was completed in 1998 and the parcel was transferred from the ownership of the federal government to a private developer. On November 22, 1999, the 36.5-acre parcel was deleted from the National Priorities List (NPL) through the partial deletion process. An office and manufacturing center on the Commander’s Quarters Parcel has attracted tenants such as Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, Arthur D. Little, and Bright Horizons Corporate Headquarters, and created approximately 2,000 new jobs for the area. Redevelopment has also included athletic fields, an ice rink, childcare facilities, restaurants, retail, and walking and bike trails. For the Charles River Operable Unit, it was determined in the Record of Decision signed September 29, 2005 that no further cleanup action is needed. With the issuance of the Final Closeout Report in 2005 and the No Further Action Record of Decision, EPA issued a notice of its intent to delete the remaining 11 acres of land from the NPL on September 22, 2006. No comments were received during the public comment period and therefore AMTL was officially deleted from the NPL on November 21, 2006.

Threats and Contaminants
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Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pesticides were detected in the soil. Various chemical and radiological contaminants detected in the storm and sanitary sewers have been remediated and/or removed. Radiological contamination previously present in a number of building and containers at the site has been remediated and removed. Sediments within the Charles River contain low levels of PAHs and other contaminants that are indicative of the urban environment where this area is located.

Cleanup Approach
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The site was addressed in two stages: initial actions and a long-term remedial phase focusing on cleanup of the entire site.

Response Action Status
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Initial Action Leaking underground storage tanks and drums containing mixed waste have been removed from the site. The nuclear reactor and associated buildings and structures were demolished in 1994. Radiological decontamination on the site is complete. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the license for the facility.

Entire Site: The U.S. Army initiated investigations into the nature and extent of site contamination in 1991 and 1992. A Record of Decision (ROD) for an area known as Area I was signed in June 1996. This ROD called for removal of contaminated soils and off site disposal. This action was completed in August 1996. A second ROD addressing contaminated soil of the remainder of the site was signed in September 1996. This ROD indicated that the groundwater beneath the site was not a media of concern. This ROD also selected soil excavation and off site disposal as the remediation action. Soil excavation on 36.5 acres of the facility has been completed. Soil excavation within the area known as River Park was completed in September 2001. Institutional controls were developed and implemented for the River Park parcel before transfer of this parcel in 2006. The 36.5 acre parcel where remediation has been completed was transferred from the Army to the Watertown Arsenal Redevelopment Corporation and the Town of Watertown in August 1998. The 36.5 acre parcel - that has been cleaned - was deleted from the National Priorities List (NPL) in November 1999. The remaining 11 acres were deleted from the NPL on November 21, 2006.

Charles River Risk to human health from exposure to Charles River sediments and ingestion of contaminated seafood were determined to be acceptable. The work plan for the Charles River ecological risk assessment was completed in spring 2003. Field work was completed in the summer of 2003. The draft ecological risk assessment was completed in the fall of 2004. The ROD, signed September 29, 2005, determined that no further cleanup action is needed. This decision is based on the determination that no threat to human health and the environment is attributable to the site. As part of the No Further Action ROD, in fall 2006 the Army undertook a wetland restoration project that involves expansion of the wetlands adjacent to Squibnocket Park in order to stabilize the bank, control erosion, and further enhance the wetland.

Environmental Progress
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The removal of leaking underground storage tanks, the decommissioning of the nuclear reactor and associated buildings and structures, the removal of mixed waste, and excavation of soil above human health and ecological risk values have reduced the risk posed to the public and the environment. A 36.5 acre parcel that has been cleaned was deleted from the NPL in November 1999. The remaining 11 acres at the Charles River Park was transferred to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in March 2005. The remaining 11 acres was deleted from the NPL in November 2006.

Current Site Status
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Work at the MTL site is covered under three Operable Units (OUs). The majority of the required remediation for OU1 has been completed. This resulted in the remediation and subsequent partial-NPL deletion of a 36.5-acre parcel of OU1. Physical remediation of the remaining 11 acres of OU1 was completed in September 2001. The development and implementation of the required institutional controls was completed in 2004. Therefore, remedial activities for OU1 are considered complete. Remediation of OU3 has also been completed. OU3 was deleted during the partial deletion process in November 1999. OU2 is the Charles River in the area adjacent to the former facility. A No Further Action ROD was signed in September 2005 based on the determination that no threat to human health and the environment is attributable to the site. As part of this ROD, the Army agreed to undertake a wetland restoration project in fall 2006 that involves expansion of the wetlands adjacent to Squibnocket Park in order to stabilize the bank, control erosion, and further enhance the wetland. The restoration project is the direct result of the collaborative effort between the community, the regulators, and the Army. The local citizens, members of the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), provided extensive input into the project. The citizen members of the RAB have been participating in the MTL cleanup process for 16 years and have drawn upon the assistance provided by the Technical Assistance Grant to provide informed input. The RAB has been disbanded. With the issuance of the Final Closeout Report in 2005 and the No Further Action Record of Decision for the Charles River, EPA issued a notice of its intent to delete the remaining 11 acres of land from the NPL and its direct final notice of deletion on September 22, 2006. No comments were received during the public comment period and therefore AMTL was officially deleted from the NPL on November 21, 2006. The wetland restoration and bank stabilization project was completed on October 25, 2006. The five year evaluation performed in 2011 found no issues with the protectiveness of the remedy. The next Five Year Review is due to be completed in 2016.

Site Photos
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Links to Other Site Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF

Newsletters & Press Releases:
Press Releases about this project  

Federal Register Notices:
Final NPL Listing  

Reports and Studies:
Revised Five-Year Review Report, March 7, 2002   
Final Closeout Report, September 29, 2005 (1.4MB)  
Second Five-Year Review Report, March 20, 2006 (4 MB)  
Site Reuse Profile, August 2006 (352 KB)  
Third Five-Year Review Report, January 1, 2011 (6.43 MB)  

Decision Documents:
View Records of Decision (RODS) on-line (EPA HQ)  
Record of Decision OU1, September 26, 1996 (6.48 MB)  
First Explanation of Significant Difference, OU1, January 12, 1998 (652.63 KB)  
Second Explanation of Significant Differences, OU1, June 7, 2001 (2.0KB)  
Record of Decision OU 2, September 29, 2005  
Record of Decision OU3, September 28, 1996 (1.80 MB)  
Institutional Controls for this Site  

Other Links:
NPL Site Narrative at Listing:  
Site Progress Profile  
EPA Technical Assistance Grants  

Site Repositories
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Watertown Public Library, 123 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02172


Contacts
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EPA Remedial Project Manager: Christine Williams
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code OSRR07-3
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1384
E-Mail Address: williams.christine@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Jim Murphy
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code ORA01-3
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1028
E-Mail Address: murphy.jim@epa.gov

State Agency Contact: Joanne Dearden
Address: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
1 Winter Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone #: 617-292-5788
E-Mail Address: joanne.dearden@state.ma.us

Army Contractor Contact Mark Brodowicz
Address: Calibre
6354 Walker Lane, Suite 300
Metro Park
Alexandria, Virginia 22310-3252
Phone #: 317-259-1879
E-Mail Address: mark.brodowicz@calibresys.com

 


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Last updated on Monday, September 23rd, 2013
URL: http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/amtl