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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
  Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont & 9 Tribal Nations
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Barre,  Vermont
Washington County
Street Address: 9 Depot Square
Zip Code: 05641

EPA ID #: VTD052021656
Site ID #: 0103184
Site Alias:

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The Howe Cleaners site is located at 9 Depot Square, Barre, Vermont, (Lat. 44 11' 57.4" N, Long. 72 30' 15.06" W), and consists of a commercial building on a 0.12 acre parcel and an approximately 3,000 sq. ft. mostly paved area that abuts its west side. The three-story wooden building has a soil crawl space and a one-story addition built on the west side. The topography of the area is generally flat. Groundwater flows in a southwest direction towards the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River located approximately 500 feet from the site.

Historical records revealed that the building at 9 Depot Square was originally constructed in the 1890s and used as a passenger depot by the Barre and Chelsea Railroad Company. Dry cleaning operations are believed to have started in 1947 and continued through several owners/operators until they ceased in late 1991. After 1991, the property was vacant for a few years, then converted and operated as a bakery for another couple of years until abandoned and foreclosed by the bank holding its mortgage. Since 1999, the property has operated as a pizza restaurant.

Initially, dry cleaning operations at the site were conducted with a stoddard solvent-based process. In 1970, ownership changed and the business was named Howe Cleaners, Inc. At this time, the dry cleaning operations were converted to a perchloroethylene (PCE) based dry cleaning process. Reportedly, PCE contaminated spent liquid was occasionally dumped outside a door on the western side of the building. Also, filters saturated with PCE from the dry cleaning equipment were regularly changed and stacked outside the north east side of the building.

Over the 1990s, several Phase I Environmental Site Assessments were conducted at the property as a result of changes in ownership. Minor concerns related to household wastes, construction debris and suspected asbestos containing material in utility systems were identified. The assessments generally concluded that there were no significant environmental hazards or liabilities associated with the property and recommended no additional investigation work.

In 1999, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) received notification of elevated levels of contaminants in a basement sump identified through a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment at a nearby property. Contaminants identified included: PCE, trichloroethylene (TCE) and dichloroethylene (DCE). VT DEC then conducted additional environmental studies/investigations to identify the source and extent of contamination in the area. These studies/investigations included: assessment of environmental conditions in the immediate area; installation of borings and monitoring wells; indoor ambient air sampling, and collection of samples from soil surface water and groundwater for analyses. In addition, VT DEC conducted interviews with former workers from the dry cleaners. The investigations concluded that the former Howe Cleaners property is the source of contamination and that elevated levels of concentrated PCE are present in soils and groundwater directly downgradient from the building. A concentration of 23 ppb PCE was measured in a surface water sample collected downgradient from the site at the Stevens Branch.

In April 2002, EPA conducted a Removal Program Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation (PA/SI).
The following are the key findings: (1) Two abandoned underground storage tanks (USTs) in the crawl space underneath the floor in the western section of the building. Tank capacities are estimated at between 250 and 500 gallons. Laboratory results for a sample collected from one UST revealed the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) including: PCE (140 ppm), methylene chloride (160 ppm), xylene (2,300 ppm) and toluene (210 ppm). (2) Surface soil samples collected from the western perimeter of the building contained PCE levels ranging up to19 ppm. Soil samples collected from the crawl space adjacent to the USTs contained PCE levels ranging up to 7.7 ppm. Other VOCs and SVOCs detected in soil samples collected included: TCE, methylene chloride, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Current Status
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In September 2002, EPA signed an Action Memorandum athorizing a time-critical removal action, including the following steps: (1) conduct additional sampling and analyses to fully define the area(s) with highly contaminated surface and sub-surface soils; (2) finalize a contaminated soil removal plan that will include specifics on soil excavation depth, contaminated materials staging, shipment for off-site disposal and restoration; (3) devise a plan to address the hazardous substances in the USTs; (4) USTcontents and soil areas found to be contaminated by hazardous substances and that pose an immediate threat to public health or welfare or the environment will be either properly removed where possible and transported to an off-site disposal facility, or otherwise addressed to reduce or eliminate any immediate health threats.

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Links to Other Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF

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

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On-Scene Coordinator
Address: One Congress Street, Suite 1100 (HBR)
Boston, MA 02114-2023
Phone #:617-918-1255
E-Mail Address:irizarry.gilberto@epa.gov


Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, & 10 Tribal Nations
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 9th, 2002
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