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1999 News Releases



Release Date: 11/05/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, 617-918-1064

BOSTON -Starting Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin removing friable asbestos-containing materials at the Atlas Tack Superfund Site in Fairhaven, MA as a means of stabilizing site conditions that pose an imminent risk to the community. EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to Atlas Tack Corp. on August 9, 1999 requiring the company to remove asbestos from dilapidated buildings that pose a threat of a partial building collapse and a subsequent significant release of asbestos. Atlas Tack has since declared it would not undertake the removal.

"EPA is stepping up to the plate because Atlas Tack Corp. is refusing to comply with the Order," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "Our number one priority is the safety of the community, unfortunately Atlas Tack Corp. doesn't seem to share this priority."

EPA has evaluated the structural integrity of all the buildings for the health and safety of EPA staff and contractors undertaking the removal and is now removing asbestos-containing materials from the power plant and the main building, which currently consists of a back three-story structure and a front two-story structure.

The buildings have not been properly maintained since Atlas Tack Corp. stopped operations in 1985. Most windows have been broken and the buildings have deteriorated substantially, potentially causing release of asbestos to the environment. Removing the asbestos insulation from the buildings will prevent the possibility of asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and presenting an inhalation risk to trespassers or members of the community.

Asbestos fibers may enter the body by inhalation or ingestion. Exposure to asbestos is associated with asbestosis, a chronic and debilitating lung disease. Exposure to asbestos is also linked to the development of mesothelioma, a form of cancer.

Atlas Tack

The Atlas Tack Superfund Site is located at 83 Pleasant Street in Fairhaven. It comprises approximately 22 acres with four buildings, two of which are sections of the partially demolished original building. The Atlas Tack facility was built in 1901 and operated as a manufacturer of tacks, steel nails, rivets, and bolts until 1985. The facility's operation included electroplating, acid-washing, enameling, and painting. From the early 1940's to the 1970's, process wastes containing acids, heavy metals such as copper and zinc, and solvents were discharged into drains in the floor of the main building. It is believed that wastewater from these operations was discharged to an on-site lagoon from approximately 1940 through 1973. As a result of these practices, many of these chemicals have permeated into the soil and groundwater.