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EPA TO SAMPLE INDOOR AIR FOR POSSIBLE CONTAMINATION

Release Date: 10/29/1998
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, 617-918-1064

Boston - Concern over new data from groundwater monitoring at the Nyanza Superfund Site has prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin an indoor air sampling program. A series of samples taken last week in the basement of the Ashland Town Hall did not show levels of contamination that would cause health problems. The EPA will extend sampling efforts to residents' homes that sit on top of the contaminated groundwater plume to learn whether there are unsafe levels of chemicals in the air from evaporating groundwater.

"This sampling of homes is being conducted as a precaution since we found higher levels of contaminants in the groundwater in some areas," said EPA project manager Sharon Hayes. "We want to make sure that the underground chemicals are not entering people's homes. We have some good data from previous air sampling to compare the newer results to. These air sample results showed no reason for concern."

The areas slated for testing include portions of Metcalf, Forest, and Tilton avenues, the northern part of Cherry Street, the eastern part of Pleasant Street, and the northern part of Main Street.

Staff from the EPA and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will begin delivering notices today to neighborhood residents with information about scheduling the indoor air sampling. "We'll finalize our sampling plans once we talk with residents and obtain further information about the construction of their homes," said Hayes. Sampling is set to begin in mid November with results going directly to the residents and the Ashland Board of Health.

The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund Site is comprised of the 35-acre Nyanza Inc. Property, drainageways between the property and the Sudbury River, and a 33-mile stretch of the Sudbury River. From 1917 to 1978, the site was used to produce textile dyes and other products. Nyanza, Inc. operated on this site from 1965 until 1978. Large volumes of industrial wastewater containing high levels of acids and numerous organic and inorganic chemicals, including mercury, were generated. The groundwater, soil, and sediments are contaminated with heavy metals and organic compounds. Wetland sediments as well as sediments and fish in the Sudbury River are contaminated with mercury. The site was put on the National Priority List in 1983. To date, more than $36 million has been spent on cleanup efforts.