On April 14 in Mattapan, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator David Cash met with U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, City of Boston officials, and local residents to discuss EPA's ongoing efforts to expedite assessment and cleanup work associated with the Lower Neponset River Superfund site. EPA has several concurrent efforts underway which underscore the Agency's commitment to prioritize work along the 3.7 miles of the Neponset River that were listed on the National Priorities List (aka Superfund) in March 2022. At the time of designating this site for Superfund attention, EPA committed to moving as expeditiously as possible to address contamination in this densely populated urban area.
EPA has taken steps to ensure that engineering and cost evaluation to support upcoming sampling and remedial actions is in place. Later this Spring, sediment, soil, and surface water sampling will take place from the confluence of the Mother Brook and the Neponset River to the T&H dam. This sampling will provide data to evaluate strategies to prevent the migration and uncontrolled release of highly contaminated PCB-sediment from the T&H dam impoundment and hotspot depositional areas. EPA is also continuing its evaluation at Riverside Square and will soon decide on cleanup actions at that location. Finally, EPA is mobilizing resources to pursue cleanup work at the Lewis Chemical site, a location within the designated Superfund site.
"We are making good on our promise to this historically overlooked community that EPA will do what's needed to protect people's health and restore a cleaner, safer environment for the community to enjoy," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "EPA is gearing up to begin the work of removing industrial contamination in the Lower Neponset River. Addressing hazardous PCB contamination at the Lewis Chemical site is a first step of many activities to come."
"To combat decades of environmental racism, we must prioritize environmental justice – and we see that with the work being done by EPA right here in the Massachusetts 7th," said U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley. "The steps taken by the EPA will transform the river, improve ecological health, and reduce the risk of health hazards for surrounding communities. I am grateful to Regional Administrator Cash and the Biden Administration for making the cleanup of the Neponset River a priority and being intentional about seeing this effort through to the end. This project will be life-changing for our shared constituents, and I look forward to seeing this necessary restoration complete."
"Boston's environmental justice communities, such as those along the Lower Neponset River, have been bearing the brunt of climate and environmental hazards for far too long," said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston. "I am grateful to the Environmental Protection Agency for working with the City of Boston and designating the Lower Neponset River as a Superfund site. I am excited for this space to once again become a beautiful, natural resource for Boston residents to enjoy."
Lewis Chemical Cleanup Activity
In the next few weeks, EPA will begin cleanup work at the Lewis Chemical Site in Hyde Park, Mass. to address polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination. In January of this year, EPA approved $3.9 million to conduct a short-term cleanup (aka removal action, was approved at the Lewis Chemical Site. EPA will begin this removal action in April and expects it to take approximately seven months to complete. Through the excavation and disposal of soil, the upcoming cleanup work will eliminate the direct contact threat and remove the source contamination of PCBs and other hazardous substances.
"We are grateful for the Environmental Protection Agency's partnership and assistance in the cleanup of the former Lewis Chemical site," said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing for the City of Boston. "For far too long, this contaminated property has been a source of blight in the Hyde Park neighborhood. By addressing this long standing environmental challenge, we are taking an important step forward in ensuring the health and vitality of this community. This cleanup effort is also an essential component of our larger endeavor to revitalize the Neponset River, guaranteeing that it remains a thriving and vibrant ecosystem for generations to come."
Starting in April 2023 through the Summer of 2023, residents should expect to see personnel on-site performing the following activities:
- Excavating soil contaminated with PCBs and other contaminants;
- Treating and disposing surface/ground water collected in excavated areas if necessary;
- Transporting and disposing of contaminated soil and other hazardous substances at EPA approved off-site disposal facilities; and
- Bringing in clean soil to backfill the excavated areas.
In addition, air monitoring and dust control to protect public health will be implemented throughout the removal action as needed.
EPA will work with City of Boston to develop a traffic management plan to address the many trucks that will be used for both disposal of contaminated materials and the off-loading of clean soil. Once completed, EPA will communicate the plan with the public and residents nearby the area.