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Investigation Continues at Nuclear Metals Site in Concord, Mass.

Release Date: 12/07/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: Dave Deegan, public affairs office, 617-918-1017

For Immediate Release: Dec. 7, 2004; Release # am04-12-06

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given approval for the consultant working on the Nuclear Metals Inc. Site in Concord, Mass. to begin work this week to excavate buried drums from an area of the site.

The drum excavation will take place in an area adjacent to the cooling water pond, located behind the former Starmet facility. The drum disposal area is being investigated by the consultant, de maximis, inc. as part of an extensive study, called a Remedial Investigation, which has been underway at the site since October. The study includes:

    • locating and characterizing the contents of buried drums and metal debris in two areas at the site;
    • investigating and characterizing the make-up of site septic tanks and leach fields, storm drains, transformer areas and an underground storage tank area;
    • characterization and survey of site buildings and contents to evaluate remedial needs and estimate those costs;
    • investigating site soils, sediment, surface water, groundwater, wetlands and bog;
    • characterizing the content of residual soil contamination associated with the former holding basin;
    • describing site-related human health and ecological risks; and,
    • developing clean-up alternatives.
Previous investigations found the drum disposal area contained about 60 buried drums. To more thoroughly characterize the contents of the drums and determine the extent of contamination in the soil surrounding them, the drums will be excavated and stockpiled on-site in secure containers. The contents of the drums will be sampled and samples will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Soil surrounding the drums will also be sampled. Once the contents of the drums are confirmed, an evaluation of disposal options will be performed.

During this phase of the investigation, workers will initially be using “Level B” or “supplied air” and protective equipment, and the air around the work area as well at the perimeter of the property will be monitored to ensure contamination is not being released or migrating off-site. After the drums are excavated, which is expect to take less than two weeks, the excavated area will be sampled and backfilled. The larger investigation of the entire property will continue through spring 2005.

The drum disposal area is one of 17 areas being investigated by de maximis, inc. as part of an agreement reached between EPA and the responsible parties at Nuclear Metals in June 2003. According to the agreement, a study of the site will be completed and used to evaluate cleanup options. Specifically, the agreement calls for the responsible parties to pay for the Remedial Investigations/ Feasibility Study and Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analyses. According to the agreement, these studies will cost about $8 million, and can be increased to a cap of $10 million.

From 1958 to the present, the site was used by various operators as a specialized research and metal manufacturing facility licensed to possess low-level radioactive substances. Site operators used depleted uranium, beryllium and other hazardous substances at the site. From 1958 to 1985, wastes contaminated with depleted uranium were disposed of in an unlined holding basin. EPA has also identified other areas on the site that were used to dispose of manufacturing wastes, building materials and laboratory equipment.

The current site owner/operator, Starmet (formerly Nuclear Metals, Inc.), manufactured depleted uranium munitions for the U.S. Army at the site from the 1970s until 1999. In 2003, EPA entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Energy, Whittaker Corp., MONY Life Insurance Co. and Textron Inc. to conduct extensive studies at the site to develop cleanup options.

The Nuclear Metals Inc. site was added to the National Priority List in June 2001, making it a Superfund site. The EPA list is made up of the country s most serious hazardous waste sites identified for possible long-term cleanup. Additional information can be found at www.nmisite.org Click icon for EPA disclaimer.or www.epa.gov/ne/superfund/sites/nmi.

Related Information:
Nuclear Metals
Fact Sheet

Superfund in New England