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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
  Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont & 9 Tribal Nations
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Salem,  Massachusetts
Essex County
Street Address: Puritan Road
Zip Code: 01970

EPA ID #: MAN000103180
Site ID #: 0103180
Site Alias:

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The Witchcraft Heights site is comprised of residential properties in the town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. The city of Salem is in the process of a major renovation of the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School. The school is not currently in use, and is scheduled to reopen for the 2003 school year. While building a new access road, elevated levels of arsenic were detected in what has been described as tannery waste. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) became involved at that time, and has subsequently been overseeing an investigation of the balance of the school property. Sampling revealed elevated concentrations of arsenic on an easement crossing an adjacent residential lot, and a slope leading down to several residential properties on Puritan Road. DEP requested assistance from EPA's removal program in June 2002, after elevated levels of arsenic were discovered at two homes on Puritan Road. In July and August 2002, surface soil samples were collected from 36 homes. Samples were analyzed for arsenic, as this had been identified as a contaminant of concern, and total chromium, because of the description of the waste provided, and its prevalence in the tanning industry. Sampling included homes on Puritan Road, Brentwood Avenue, Frederick Street, Carrollton Street Extension, Bedford Street, Belleview Avenue, Gable Circle, Gallows Circle, Ord Street, Pioneer Circle, and Witchcraft Road. Sampling also included a small portion of the school property where the back yard of two residences extended over the property line. The analytical results of tests performed by EPA on soil samples from residential properties indicate that arsenic is present at concentrations as high as 671 parts per million (ppm). On school property along a slope leading down to Puritan Road homes, the city’s test results show arsenic is present in surface soil at a concentration as high as 157 ppm. Additional testing is necessary to identify the type of chromium present, and to determine if this hazardous substance also poses increased risk at this site. Each home has been evaluated by state risk assessors using the Method 3 risk assessment model found in the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). Preliminary findings are that remediation is required at 2 homes, and that more sampling is required to make a determination about other homes.

The location of the site varies because it includes individual private residences that are not necessarily adjacent to each other. Moreover, the list of homes to be addressed will not be final until sampling is completed. However, because the homes sampled form a ring around the school, the coordinates for the site can be approximated by 42E 31' 0.0"N latitude, 70E 55' 13.2" W longitude, which is the location of the school. The site is bounded on all sides by still more residential property. The Witchcraft Heights development is on a hill rising approximately 80 feet above the surrounding area. The school is at the top of the hill, and is surrounded by a fairly dense arrangement of single-family homes on all sides.

Current Status
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In September 2002, EPA signed an Action Memorandum authorizing a time-critical removal action. contaminated soil will be excavated from homes identified by the MCP Method 3 risk assessment model using smaller-sized heavy equipment, and transported off site for disposal; and restoration of excavated areas.

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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 #:617-918-1229
E-Mail Address:haworth.richard@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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