Category Archives: WR Grace Superfund Site

Missed the 1,4-Dioxane Panel? View it here.

On Oct. 25, 2018, Acton residents benefited from a crash course on 1,4-Dioxane in Acton’s groundwater and drinking water.

From left to right: Moderator Kim Kastens and panelists Matt Mostoller, Dan Groher, and Diane Manganaro. Photo by Norm Strahle.

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Has Acton’s 1,4-Dioxane situation been getting better or worse?

The previous post looked at the 1.5-year-old effort to divert 1,4-Dioxane in the Nuclear Metals, Inc. (NMI) plume before it can reach the public water supply. This post looks at a longer time frame, and asks whether dioxane levels in the Acton public water supply wells have been getting better or worse over the scale of a decade.

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1,4-Dioxane

1,4-Dioxane is an organic compound that was widely used as a solvent and stabilizer in industrial applications during the late 20th century. Continue reading

Water Quality

Acton’s waters contain many materials in them other than pure H2O. Some of these are natural and others are introduced through human processes. This page indexes information about the quality of the groundwater, surface waters, and drinking water of Acton.

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Perspectives: 1,4-Dioxane in Acton Water

By Lucy Kirshner

A year ago, I passed a neighbor on the street who shared her anxiety. “There is poison in our water!” she began. “It’s 1,4-Dioxane and the town knows, but all they’re doing is diluting it, not removing it.” Continue reading

Marys Brook Honors Mary Michaelman

Please see attached letter from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names accepting our proposal to make official the name, Marys Brook (apostrophes are not allowed) for the perennial stream that flows from Main Street in Acton, through the Acton Arboretum, joining with Coles Brook near Taylor Road and Route 2 (map attached).

The brook is named for Mary S. Michelman 2/14/1960 – 12/17/2010, Acton citizen, former president of Acton Citizens for Environmental Safety (ACES), founder of Acton Stream Teams, and assiduous environmental activist who fought for clean water in Acton.

Mary gave hundreds of volunteer hours researching and urging EPA and W.R. Grace to clean up the industrial pollution at the Acton W.R. Grace Superfund Cleanup site.

Mary died of cancer in 2010. The non-profit organization Green Acton has taken up the cause of environmental protection and conservation of local resources.

Marys Brook signs and a small plaque can be seen on Minot Avenue near the Conant School, and affixed to a trail boardwalk over the stream that now bears her name in the Acton Arboretum.

 

2016 Green Acton comments on WR Grace cleanup plan

Below is the text of Green Acton’s 2016 letter to the EPA about the Grace cleanup site. A PDF is available here Continue reading

Additional Sources of Information

For more information on the WR Grace Superfund Site in Acton, Massachusetts: Continue reading

Public Repository of WR Grace Documents – Additional Information

The Acton Memorial Library maintains a public repository of documents about the WR Grace Site. These documents, dating back to the 1970’s, can be found in a loft area (accessed by a small spiral staircase), above the Civil War exhibit on the second floor of the library. (Please ask at the reference desk, if you need assistance.) WR Grace documents are also available for public review at the Acton Health Department in Acton Town Hall.

Many of the documents before 1997 concern the identification and cleanup of contaminated sludge and soil from onsite lagoons and other disposal areas. More recent documents focus on the groundwater contamination that extends beyond the borders of the WR Grace property, reaching both the Assabet River to the south and three public water supply wells to the northeast. (The Acton Water District treats the public water supply to meet all applicable water quality standards.)

Overview Documents:
For an overview of past and current issues at the WR Grace Site, see the following documents:

1. Draft Phase II, Remedial Investigation Report, for the WR Grace Site, Acton, MA, Aug. 30, 2002, by GeoTrans
(In Volume I: See the text, especially Sections 1 through 3; In Volume II: See Appendix B)

If you are interested in further information about the WR Grace site, the August 30, 2002 Remedial Investigation Report (RI) is a good place to start. The text in Volume I provides an overview of the site. (Section 3 of the text provides details on the contaminants, including a more extensive list than the usually cited benzene, VDC, vinyl chloride, arsenic and manganese.) The figures include cross sections of the benzene, VDC, and vinyl chloride plumes, and the distribution of inorganic compounds (arsenic, manganese, iron, and aluminum) in groundwater onsite. Large site maps (24” X 36”) are also included in this and many other WR Grace reports. Appendix B (in Volume II of the RI), provides two lists of the contaminants that exceed water quality standards—one list organized by chemical name, and the second by sampling location.

2. Annual Groundwater Monitoring Reports (2003 through Current Year)
These reports, usually available in the spring of each year, include plume maps showing the location and concentrations of VDC, vinyl chloride, and benzene in groundwater at the WR Grace Site from the prior year’s annual sampling. They also discuss any changes in contamination levels compared to previous years, and any issues of current concern. Contaminants currently sampled in groundwater include volatile organic compounds, inorganic compounds, 1,4-dioxane, and geochemical parameters.

3. Five Year Review Reports Issued by EPA, (September 1999, September 2004 and September 2009)
Five Year Review Reports include a summary of the history of the site and actions taken to address contamination, as well as site photos, maps, tables, and an assessment of the protectiveness of the cleanup of soils at the site. (Five Year Reviews by EPA are required as part of the Federal “Superfund” process because “hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remain at the Site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure.”)

Public Repository of WR Grace Documents

The Acton Memorial Library maintains a public repository of documents about the WR Grace Site. These documents, dating back to the 1970’s, can be found on the second floor, in the oldest portion of the library. (Please ask at the reference desk, if you need assistance.) WR Grace documents are also available for public review at the Acton Health Department in Acton Town Hall.

Many of the documents before 1997 concern the identification and cleanup of contaminated sludge and soil from onsite lagoons and other disposal areas. More recent documents focus on the groundwater contamination that extends beyond the borders of the WR Grace property, reaching both the Assabet River to the south and three public water supply wells to the northeast. (The Acton Water District treats the public water supply to meet all applicable water quality standards.)

If you are interested in further information about the WR Grace site, the August 30, 2002 Remedial Investigation Report (RI) is a good place to start. The text in Volume I provides an overview of the site. (Section 3 of the text provides details on the contaminants, including a more extensive list than the usually cited benzene, VDC, and vinyl chloride.) The figures include cross sections of the benzene, VDC, and vinyl chloride plumes, and the distribution of inorganic compounds in groundwater onsite. Large site maps (24” X 36”) are also included in this and many other WR Grace reports. Appendix B (in Volume II of the RI), lists the contaminants that exceed standards in two ways—by chemical name, and by sampling location.

**** Draft Phase II, Remedial Investigation Report, for the WR Grace Site, Acton, MA, Aug. 30, 2002, by GeoTrans, (In Volume I: See the text, especially Sections 1 through 3; In Volume II: See Appendix B)****

According to the current site schedule, WR Grace will submit the following critical documents during Spring 2004. These documents will be available for public review in the public repository at the library.

1. Public Health Risk Assessment
2. Ecological Risk Assessment
The two risk assessments will determine which areas of the site will require remediation (cleanup).

3. RI/FS: Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study: The Feasibility Study will assess different technologies and approaches to remediate the site and will propose a cleanup strategy. Public comment is welcome.