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  NUCLEAR METALS


Map this site in Cleanups in My Community
 Concord,  Massachusetts
 Middlesex County
 Street Address: 2229 MAIN STREET
 Zip Code: 01742
 Congressional
 District(s):

05
 EPA ID #: MAD062166335
 Site ID #: 0100550
 Site Aliases: Starmet Corporation

 Site Responsibility: Potentially Responsible Parties

 NPL LISTING HISTORY
 Proposed Date 07/27/2000
 Final Date 06/14/2001

Site Description
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The Nuclear Metals, Inc. (NMI) site, also known as the Starmet Corporation, is located on a 46.4-acre parcel located at 2229 Main Street in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The facility includes five interconnected buildings, a paved parking area, a sphagnum bog, a cooling water recharge pond, and a holding basin. The topography of the property slopes down to the north. The property is bordered to the north by Main Street, commercial and residential properties, and the Assabet River; to the east by woodland and residential properties; to the west by woodland and commercial/industrial properties; and to the south by woodland and residential properties.


In 1958, NMI began operating a manufacturing facility on previously undeveloped land. Nuclear Metals, Inc. produced depleted uranium products, primarily as penetrators for armor piercing ammunition. They also manufactured metal powders for medical applications, photocopiers, and speciality metal products, such as beryllium tubing used in the aerospace industry. From 1958 to 1985, NMI discharged wastes to an unlined holding basin. Cast depleted uranium ingots or billets were jacketed in copper, which were heated and extruded into long rod stock. The extruded depleted uranium rod had a resulting thin layer of copper coating, which was removed in a nitric acid pickling operation. During the pickling process, "small quantities" of copper and uranium were dissolved in the nitric acid. The spent nitric acid solution was collected, neutralized with a lime slurry, and then discharged to the unlined, in-ground holding basin. Small quantities of other speciality metal products including steel jacketed beryllium, stainless steel, and titanium alloys were also pickled at various times with several different acids (nitric, hydrofluoric, and sulfuric), and discharged to the holding basin. The discharge to the holding basin ceased in 1985 when NMI began using an acid closed-loop recycling process.

In addition to natural and depleted uranium (as elemental, oxide, and fluoride), NMI handled thorium and thorium oxide under license to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); sulfuric and nitric acids for process activities; 1,1,1-trichloroethane as a solvent; trichlorofluoroethane as a degreaser; zirconium; magnesium; beryllium; acetone; hydrogen peroxide; flammable gases (propane and acetylene); and oxygen. Two 10,000-gallon underground storage tanks were used for the storage of No. 4 fuel oil. Several of the following oils were used and recycled on site: DTE light, DTE heavy, Medium DTE 25, vacuum oil (HE1SO), and No. 7d.

On October 1, 1997, NMI was renamed Starmet Corporation. In March 1997, the company's license to handle source material (including depleted uranium, thorium, and thorium oxide) under the NRC was transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Radiation Control Program. In accordance with Massachusetts state license SM-0179, Starmet is allowed to store source material (including depleted uranium, thorium, and thorium oxide).

Threats and Contaminants
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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (MADEQE) collected ground water samples and detected volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in NMI's supply well, previously used for drinking water. Analytical results indicate that the ground water beneath the property is contaminated with radioactive material (i.e., depleted uranium), and to a lesser extent, VOCs. In addition, a sphagnum bog on the property has also been sampled and has shown evidence of radioactive contamination. Soil, sediment, and surface water samples taken historically and recently indicate that the holding basin, sphagnum bog, and the cooling water recharge pond all have elevated levels of depleted uranium. Poly Chlorinated Bi-phenyls (PCBs) have been found in various soils and sediments on-site. The on-site buildings and structures are severely contaminated with depleted uranium and other hazardous substances.

Cleanup Approach
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In 1998, Nuclear Metals, Inc. conducted a voluntary partial cleanup of contaminated soils under The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) oversight. The partial cleanup consisted of excavation and transportation off site of approximately 8,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with depleted uranium and copper. The cleanup halted in late 1998 when Nuclear Metals determined that the cleanup level set by MADEP could not be met without excavating significantly more material. The Site has since been listed on the National Priorities List; two time-critical removal actions and a MassDEP response action have been conducted at the site since that time. Further evaluation of remaining contamination at the site is being addressed under EPA authority.

Response Action Status
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Initial Action A time-critical removal assessment was conducted to determine if buried drums on site contain hazardous material. Two areas containing buried drums and other laboratory equipment were located during the removal assessment: one in a fenced-in area adjacent to the holding basin and cooling water pond, and contains approximately 70 drums; the other, called the "old landfill" contains an unknown number of drums and laboratory equipment. A time-critial removal action was conducted in 2002 which included: 1) installation of fencing around the "old landfill" area where buried drums are located; 2) regrading and capping of the "old landfill" area; and 3) installation of a liner in the holding basin to eliminate fugitive dust and reduce the leaching of contaminated soils into the groundwater. Sampling and analysis of soils in the holding basin was conducted in September 2001 to fill data gaps in previous sampling efforts and to determine if data from past sampling efforts performed by Starmet are comparable to EPA data. In June 2002, EPA assumed the groundwater monitoring program previously performed by Starmet. During the June 2002 sampling event, EPA also sampled sediment and surface water on-site and in the Assabet River. EPA sampled the groundwater monitoring wells again in July 2003 before turning site work over to Potentially Responsible Parties.

Remedial Investigation Remedial Investigation field work is near completion. The ecological and human health risk assessments are in draft and under agency review. For up to date information, see "Current Site Status" below or go to www.nmisite.org, which is maintained by the Potentially Responsible Parties' consultants.

second time-critical removal action In January 2008, EPA began a second time-critical removal action to address the lab chemicals and various other flammable/hazardous materials inside the facility buildings. Material removed from the facility was disposed of off-site. This removal action was completed in September 2008. The removal action was the resulting action from a fire that occurred at the facility in June 2007. The town of Concord, MA fire department requested assistance from EPA to address the flammable and hazardous materials within the facility that pose a risk of fire or explosion.

Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA) In February 2008, EPA issued an EE/CA to evaluate alternatives to address the contaminated facility buildings. In April 2008, EPA issued a fact sheet seeking public comment on EPA's proposal to demolish the facility buildings on site. The public comment period ended on June 12, 2008, After the public comment period, EPA signed an Action Memorandum on September 23, 2008, authorizing the demolition of contaminated buildings at the Nuclear Metals Superfund Site. On June 20, 2011, an Administrative Order on Consent for the NTCRA was reached between EPA, Textron, Inc., Whittaker, Corp, and the Army and Department of Energy. Under this agreement, the private parties are required to provide security for the building prior to demolition, remove all building contents, and demolish and dispose of all buildings and debris. Concrete building slabs will remain in-place so as not to disturb potentially-contaminated underlying soil. Sumps and depressions in the slab will be filled and slabs will be entirely overlain with a short-term cap or sealed until a future EPA decision is made regarding the handling of underlying site soils. EPA expects this removal action to be completed in approximately 3 years. The estimated cost for this NTCRA is $63.9 million.

MADEP Response Action In 2004, the MassDEP and the United States Army (“Army”) entered into an agreement whereby the Army financed the removal of approximately 3,800 drums of depleted uranium and other waste materials that were stored at the Site. MassDEP performed this drum removal from September 2005 to March 2007.

Environmental Progress
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Removal of 8,000 cubic yards of soil from the holding basin by Starmet under MADEP oversight has reduced the threat of potential exposure at the site. Lining of the holding basin has reduced potential exposure to contaminated dust, and installation of a fence and capping of the landfill has reduced the potential exposures to nearby residents as well. Removal of more than 3800 drums of depleted uranium and other materials from the facility by MADEP with Army funding has also reduced the threat of potential exposure and threat of release of contaminants at the site. Two time-critical removal actions have been conducted at the site that prevent contact with hazardous and radioactive material: 1) in 2002, EPA capped the "old landfill" area of the site, installed a fence around the area, and lined a holding basin containing depleted uranium; and 2) in 2008, EPA removed hazardous and radioactive materials from the facility buildings to prevent release of those materials into the environment.

Current Site Status
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A time-critical removal action was initially conducted from late 2002 to 2003 to prevent the direct contact threat with the contaminated surface soils located in the "old landfill" area, and to reduce the infiltration of precipitation into the holding basin soils. In June 2003, EPA also negotiated an agreement with five potentially responsible parties including: U.S. Army, U.S. DOE, Whittaker Corporation, MONY LIfe Insurance Co., and Textron, Incorporated, for the performance of a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS), which includes the performance of an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA). A lien has been recorded on the Starmet property at 2229 Main Street in Concord.

In May 2001, Starmet transported 1700 drums containing depleted uranium from its South Carolina facility to the site, to facilitate its planned sale of that facility. Starmet also has approximately 2000 drums and other containers of depleted uranium wastes and approximately 100 drums of beryllium wastes stored at the site. Starmet is currently in violation of its MADPH radioactive materials license because it has failed to remove the stored drums of depleted uranium materials from the site and is therefore not allowed to process any radioactive material at the facility under their license. After Starmet indicated that it planned to cease operations or file for bankruptcy, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts obtained a preliminary injunction in state court in January 2002, requiring Starmet to continue to provide site security and necessary utilities. On March 15, 2002, the state court placed Starmet into temporary receivership. On or about March 18, 2002, Starmet abandoned the site property. The temporary receiver provided security and necessary utilities, with the assistance of MADPH, until March 25, 2002. Thereafter, MADPH began providing security at the site. Starmet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 3, 2002, returned to the site, and continues to operate and provide site security. MADPH currently has funding available to provide security and necessary utilities if needed, through the financial assurance mechanism provided under Starmet’s radioactive materials license. If MADPH’s funding is exhausted and no other funding source is available, resulting in abandonment of the facility, then EPA may be required to address the security and utilities issues.

In April 2004, the state reached an agreement with the Army to remove the more than 3800 drums of depleted uranium and other materials from within the facility. The state, under contract with a private contractor, began shipments of drums and other material to the Envirocare waste disposal facility in Clive, Utah began in September 2005. The state removal work was completed in March 2007.

In September 2004, EPA conditionally approved the RI/FS Work Plan submitted by de maximis, the project coordinator for the private PRPs. Field work associated with the remedial investigation began in October 2004 and is near completion. Draft ecological and human health risk assessments are under agency review.

A second time-critical removal action which consisted of removing hazardous and flammable material from within the facility was performed in 2008. This removal action resulted from a fire that occurred at the facility in June 2007. After the fire, the town of Concord, MA fire department requested assistance from EPA to address the flammable and hazardous materials within the facility that pose a risk of fire or explosion.

In February 2008, EPA issued an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) to evaluate alternatives to address the contaminated facility buildings. In April 2008, EPA issued a fact sheet seeking public comment on EPA's proposal to demolish the facility buildings on site. The public comment period ended June 12, 2008. After the public comment period, EPA signed an Action Memorandum on September 23, 2008, authorizing the demolition of contaminated buildings at the Nuclear Metals Superfund Site as a Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA). Under this removal action all building contents will be removed, followed by the demolition and disposal of all buildings and debris. Concrete building slabs will remain in-place so as not to disturb potentially-contaminated underlying soil. Sumps and depressions in the slab will be filled and slabs will be entirely overlain with a short-term cap or sealed until a future EPA decision is made regarding the handling of underlying site soils.

On June 20, 2011, an Administrative Order on Consent for the NTCRA was reached between EPA, Textron, Inc., Whittaker, Corp, and the Army and Department of Energy. On November 1, 2011, the remaining employees at the facility vacated the site. The site is now controlled by the private party general contractor, demaximis, inc. Interim work to stabilize the facility is currently being conducted. The estimated cost for this NTCRA is $63.9 million.

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  
Community Update, September 2001  
Fact Sheet: EPA Seeks Public Comment on Proposal to Demolish Site Buildings, April, 01, 2008 (9.25 MB)  

Federal Register Notices:
Proposed NPL Listing  
Final NPL Listing  
Federal Register Notice of Proposed CERCLA Administrative Cost Recovery Settlement Agreement, June 6, 2011 (256 KB)  

Administrative Records:
Removal Action Administrative Record (AR) Index, August 1, 2002 (284 KB)  
Supplemental Removal Action Administrative Record (AR) Index, January 17, 2008 (120 KB)  
Removal Action Administrative Record (AR) Index, February 1, 2008 (187 KB)  
Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA) Administrative Record (AR) Index, October 1, 2008 (453 KB)   

Reports and Studies:
Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for Disposition of Structures and Contents, February 18, 2008 (14.8 MB)  
Final Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA), September 4, 2013 (Opening file is 19.3 MB with a link to an additional file)  
Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA), June 3, 2014 (44.4 MB)  

Decision Documents:
View Records of Decision (RODS) on-line (EPA HQ)  
Approval Memorandum to Perform an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis for Non-Time Critical Removal Action, September 26, 2002  
Approval Memorandum to Perform an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA), Operable Unit 1, December 12, 2007 (907 KB)  
Action Memormandum -- Request for Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA), September 23, 2008 (6.6MB)  

Settlement Documents:
Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA), June 22, 2011 (2.97 MB)  

Other Links:
NPL Site Narrative at Listing:  
Site Progress Profile  
Current NMI Site Investigation Information (maintained by Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) consultant)  

Site Repositories
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Concord Public Library, Concord, MA

OSRR Records and Information Center, 1st Floor, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (HSC), Boston, MA 02109-3912 (617) 918-1440


Contacts
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EPA Remedial Project Manager: Melissa Taylor
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code OSRR07-4
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1310
E-Mail Address: taylor.melissag@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Kelsey O'Neil
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code ORA01-1
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1003
E-Mail Address: oneil.kelsey@epa.gov

State Agency Contact: Garry Waldeck
Address: MA Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP)
One Winter Street
Boston, MA 02118
Phone #: 617-348-4017
E-Mail Address: garry.waldeck@state.ma.us

 


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