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Fire at Starmet Superfund Facility Not a Threat to the Public

Release Date: 06/29/2007
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – June 29, 2007) On Tuesday evening, June 26, 2007, a small isolated fire broke out inside the Starmet facility located at 2229 Main Street in Concord, MA. The Concord Fire Department (CFD), assisted by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS), immediately responded to the scene to contain and extinguish the fire. Three night-shift employees in the building at the time of the fire evacuated unharmed, and no injuries to responding firefighters or the public were reported. The materials involved in the fire were metal shavings from current non-radiological processes at the site. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Responding along with the CFD that evening were representatives of the Concord Police, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP), Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) Radiation Control Program, the regional hazardous materials team, the Massachusetts DFS, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Air monitoring conducted by EPA showed no airborne radiation was released as a result of the incident. Additional confirmatory air sample analysis is ongoing. Follow-up sampling of the metal waste material involved in the fire will be conducted this week.

The building’s fire suppression sprinkler system and fire alarms have been restored. Starmet safety personnel are evaluating when work can resume at the site in coordination with local, state and federal agencies. Under orders of the Concord Fire Chief, Starmet is securing the remaining metal shavings and other materials involved in the fire to reduce the risk of future fires from these materials. The responding agencies continue to coordinate follow-up efforts and will provide updates to the community as they become available.

Release surveys by responders showed that there were no additional impacts to site contamination from this small fire.

Starmet operates a specialty metals manufacturing company at the facility. While Starmet is licensed by MADPH to possess radioactive materials, it no longer manufactures products using radioactive materials. Starmet (formerly Nuclear Metals, Inc.) manufactured depleted uranium munitions for the U.S. Army at the site from the 1970s until 1999. Starmet is required to vacate the facility on or before October 31, 2007, under an agreement reached between Starmet and MADPH in May 2007.

Starmet’s facility, including forty-six acres of land, was listed by EPA on the National Priorities List in June 2001, and is known as the Nuclear Metals Superfund Site. Under an agreement between EPA and potentially responsible parties for the site reached in June 2003, potentially responsible parties are currently performing comprehensive studies of the site that will be used to evaluate cleanup options. An environmental cleanup contractor hired by the potentially responsible parties, de maximis, inc., is performing these studies, under EPA supervision.

As part of a separate cleanup action under the direction of the MADEP, drums and other containers of depleted uranium previously used or stored in the building were removed and disposed of off-site. This removal, involving approximately 4,000 drums of contaminated material, was completed in March 2007.

More Information:
- Emergency Response Clean Ups in New England (epa.gov/region1/superfund/er/index.htm)
- Air Quality & Toxics (epa.gov/region1/eco/airtox/index.html)
- Concord, Mass. Fire Department Homepage (concordnet.org/Pages/ConcordMA_Fire/index)