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Groundwater cleanup to begin at contaminated Concord site

By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts Globe Correspondent 

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with private and public entities to clean up contaminated groundwater at a hazardous waste site in Concord.

Under the settlement, Whittaker Corp. and Textron Inc. will perform the removal action at the Nuclear Metals, Inc. Superfund site at 2229 Main St. The $5.7 million project will be funded primarily by the federal government responsible parties including the US Army and the US Department of Energy.

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The cleanup area, also known as the Starmet Corp. site, includes a 46-acre parcel on Main Street and surrounding areas where groundwater contamination has migrated. Several prior owners/operators used the site for research and specialized metals manufacturing, and were licensed to possess low-level radioactive substances.

According to the EPA, Nuclear Metals made depleted uranium products, primarily for armor-piercing ammunition. It also manufactured metal powders for medical applications, photocopiers, and specialty metal products such as beryllium tubing used in the aerospace industry.

From 1958 to 1985, wastes contaminated with depleted uranium, copper, and nitric acid were disposed into an unlined holding basin at the site. Volatile organic compounds were used as solvents and degreasers for cleaning of machines and machined parts/products, and discharged through floor drains to an on-site cooling water pond resulting in contamination of an on-site supply well.

In 2001, the property was added to the Superfund National Priority List, which includes the country’s most serious hazardous-waste sites identified for possible long-term cleanup.

The groundwater cleanup, which is just one aspect of EPA’s overall remedy for the site, includes the design and construction of a groundwater treatment system and initial operation of the system. Containment of the contaminated groundwater should begin during the summer of 2016, and the construction of the treatment system will be underway during 2016 as well.

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Another removal action is currently underway at the site, financed and performed by the responsible parties, to demolish contaminated facility buildings. According to the EPA, demolition of onsite buildings began in 2015 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.


Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.