Superfund Proposed for Former Tanning and Plating Sites

Two former industrial properties in Massachusetts that pose potential threats to neighboring properties because of contamination migration have been identified for possible addition to the Superfund program.

A leather tanning operation was located at 33 Water St. in Danvers, Mass. beginning in the 1890s. In 1914, it moved to 55 Clinton Ave. Today, a condominium complex sits on top of the property at 33 Water St., and the larger parcel at 55 Clinton Ave. is now bounded by a movie theater, shopping center and residences.

At one time, waste from the manufacturing process was dumped into two on-site landfills. Liquid waste was sent to the Crane River and later through the city’s sewer system. Sludge waste from the operations was dumped into an on-site lagoon system. Today, concentrations of arsenic, total chromium and hexavalent chromium, as well as dioxin, exceed health-based standards at multiple locations. The land at 33 Water St., and other parcels on both sides of the river, have contaminated surface and subsurface soils. The sediments of the river are also contaminated along with a recreational fishery and about a mile of wetland frontage.

The second site in Attleboro, Mass., sits on 2.8 acres and was once an industrial chromium plating facility. Some copper plating was also done at that location. This site is now in a mixed residential and industrial area in the southeastern part of the city.

The plating activities at the site date to about 1940 and involved degreasing with trichloroethylene, grit blasting, chrome plating with cyanide, stripping materials with acids, aqueous rinsing, grinding and polishing. Materials were dipped into large tanks beneath the floor of the facility that contained chromic acid. Before the city’s wastewater treatment system was built in 1970, the wastewater from the operations was directly discharged to a wetland adjacent to the facility. Later, chrome hydroxide sludge created by the treatment system was dumped into an unlined lagoon while wastewater flowed into an unlined surface impoundment. Waste from the operations had been discovered in elevated concentrations in the wetlands as well as on residential properties that border the wetlands, and up to almost a half mile downstream of the facility along Bliss Brook. Additionally, there are two groundwater plumes of contamination containing hexavalent chromium and trichloroethylene that have migrated away from the facility. Besides contaminated surface soils at nearby residences, the state is also checking into potential vapor intrusion concerns.

You can find out more about these sites and the Superfund progress here, here and here.