Case Summary: Settlement Reached at Sutton Brook Disposal Area Site in Massachusetts
The 2010 settlement, valued at $30 million, between 49 parties, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The settlement will pay for the selected remedy at the site including excavating contaminated material, constructing a multi-layered impermeable cap for the on-site landfill, capturing and treating ground water, and instituting an ongoing monitoring program. In addition to funding the future remediation costs at the site, some of the settlement money will pay for past response costs incurred by the agencies involved, as well as compensate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for damage to nearby wetlands and groundwater supplies.
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The 20 defendants responsible for performing the cleanup include: Ausimont Industries Inc.; BASF Corporation; Boston and Maine Corporation; Browning-Ferris Industries Inc.; Allied Waste Systems Inc.; BFI Waste Systems of North America LLC; BTU International Inc.; E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co.; Honeywell International Inc.; Mallinckrodt LLC; M/A-COM Inc.; Raytheon Company; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Textron Systems Corp.; Town of Tewksbury, Verizon New England Inc.; Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc.; Waste Management Disposal Services of Massachusetts Inc.; Waste Management of New Hampshire Inc. and Zeneca, Inc.
The site involved in this settlement is a town dump that was operated by private owners since at least 1957. In addition to accepting municipal trash, this site also accepted an unknown quantity of commercial and industrial waste. The landfill property was also used by a private loam screening company in 1983.
This site is approximately 50 acres and was originally operated as a "burning dump," where refuse was burned instead of buried. In 1961, however, the local Tewksbury Board of Health mandated that the dump be operated as a "sanitary landfill," and thus not burn waste, and required that it only accept municipal trash from the town. However, the dump continued to accept commercial and industrial waste in addition to the municipal refuse, though exactly how much industrial and commercial waste was brought on-site is unknown. Through the 1960's the dump received citations for a variety of violations and engaged in landfill burning, leaving waste areas uncovered, filling in on-site wetlands, disposing of wastes below the water table, and using landfill slopes which exceeded operation plans. In 1979 the state Commissioner of Public Health ordered the closure of the landfill but it continued to accept waste until it was finally and completely closed in 1988. More information is available on the Sutton Brook Disposal Area web page.
Sutton Brook runs through the middle of the site and divides the dumping areas into north and south landfill "lobes," which are unlined and uncapped. Both of these dump areas are discharging contamination into the groundwater and towards Sutton Brook. Testing and investigations of the site by local, state, and federal organizations have revealed the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and inorganic elements in on-site and off-site ground water, surface water, sediment, soil., Moreover, testing also revealed that VOCs and SVOCs are present in the air at the site.
The $30 million settlement, approved November 9, 2010, will pay for a variety of aspects of the cleanup process. Twenty of the parties will be responsible for implementation of the remedy at the site, the state's past response costs, oversight costs incurred by EPA and the state DEP, and will pay $1.65 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for damages to wetlands and groundwater supplies near the site. The remaining twenty-nine parties will make payments into two trusts which will supply funding for the cleanup and insure that funding will be available into the future. The remedy at the site includes excavating contaminated soils and sediments, constructing a multi-layered impermeable cap to prevent leakage from any materials that remain onsite, capturing and treating contaminated groundwater, and a long-term monitoring program to ensure the remedy is effective.
For more information, contact:
Man Chak Ng
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1
1 Congress Street, Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02114-2023
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460