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EPA To Clean Up Abandoned Metals Foundry in Hartford

Release Date: 03/27/2009
Contact Information: Jeanethe Falvey, (617) 918-1020

(Boston, Mass.- March 27, 2009) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to mobilize equipment and personnel to remove contamination at the former Philbrick-Booth Foundry facility in Hartford, Conn.

Previous site investigations by the EPA, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP), and the Connecticut Radiation Control Program have confirmed the presence of hazardous chemicals inside the building and in soil surrounding the facility.

This site is approximately 1.2 acres in size, located at 367 Homestead Avenue, in an industrial area of Hartford. An abandoned foundry building and several sheds are on site, with paved and partially vegetated areas. The property is bordered by commercial and industrial properties, railroad tracks and wooded areas. Historical information about the former use of the facility beyond metal works is limited.

In April of 2008, the Hartford Fire Department and the CT DEP responded to a release of transformer oil suspected of containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). At that time responders noticed additional abandoned containers and suspected that they held hazardous materials. After CT DEP contained and removed the leaking transformers and impacted soil for off site disposal, they requested that EPA perform an additional environmental evaluation.

Following the City of Hartford’s foreclosure on the property in September of 2008, EPA performed an official preliminary assessment and site investigation, by collecting samples from drums, soil, floor sweepings, and structural materials that could contain asbestos. The sampling work found the presence of a powdery material with low levels of radiation, (300 uR/hr); SVOCs and VOCs (semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds); PCBs in floor sweepings; heavy metals in liquids stored in 55 gallon drums, and friable asbestos inside the building. Heavy metals and PCBs were also present in surface soils outside. In October of 2008, the CT Radiation Control Program collected additional samples and determined that the likely source of the radiation in the powdery material was radium-226.

While equipment has moved in, actual cleanup work will not begin until the week of March 30. The first priority is to secure the building and prevent unauthorized access, as this facility has been unrestricted and available for loiterers and trespassing. 24-hour security will ensure surveillance occurs until the waste is transported off-site. All hazardous wastes on site will be stabilized, extracted or excavated, contained, and categorized for proper disposal. This will include, contaminated floor sweepings, asbestos within the building, contaminated soil outside the facility and hazardous materials in drums. Several debris piles currently exist within the building that will need to be carefully sorted, sampled and contained.

EPA is working closely with the CT Dept. of Public Health and local authorities to keep nearby businesses and residences informed of the cleanup. To protect the nearby community during the cleanup, routine precautions such as dust suppression and air monitoring will take place. Air monitoring is performed in the immediate work zone and around the site perimeter even before cleanup work begins, to establish base, or background, air quality conditions and to give more accurate results throughout the duration of the cleanup. As with every removal of this nature, if any level of contaminant in the air is detected as abnormal or unexpected, work crews will stop work immediately to determine and stabilize the source.

This removal action is anticipated to be completed within nine months. EPA’s budget for on site work is $750,000.

More information:
EPA’s Removal Program and other short term cleanups in New England (epa.gov/region1/superfund/er/index.htm)

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