Nuclear Metals Superfund site slated for remediation

A new agreement will set the stage for more work to occur at a Concord, Massachusetts Superfund site, including the demolition of contaminated buildings which are unsound and need to be removed.

The agreement, an Administrative Settlement Agreement between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, Textron, Inc. and Whittaker Corporation, outlines responsibilities for $70 million for performance of a non-time critical removal action at the Nuclear Metals, Inc. Superfund site.

From 1958 to the present, various owners and operators used the Concord site for research and specialized metals manufacturing, and were licensed to possess low-level radioactive substances. Between 1958 and 1985, the owner/operators disposed of waste, contaminated with depleted uranium, copper and nitric acid, into an unlined holding basin located at the site. Other areas of the site were also used for the disposal of manufacturing wastes.

Starmet operated under the company name Nuclear Metals from 1972 until 1997, when it changed its name to Starmet Corporation. While no longer permitted to use radioactive materials in manufacturing, Starmet continues to maintain a license to possess radioactive materials at the site. Starmet and a related company continue to employ a small staff at the site, and provide site security and building maintenance. It is anticipated that Starmet will permanently vacate the facility in the near future.

The site currently includes multiple structures with a combined footprint of approximately 185,000 square feet, including a two-story, five-section interconnected building, several tank houses, storage huts and storage buildings. The buildings, nearly 50 years old and in poor condition, are deteriorating and have multiple leaks, and are contaminated with high levels of depleted uranium.

Demolition of the buildings will occur down to their slab foundation, with placement of a temporary cap over the remaining slab. Construction debris will either be disposed off-site at an appropriately-licensed disposal facility or potentially on-site, if EPA determines that such debris does not contain hazardous substances.

With ongoing attention and work, EPA and Mass DEP have significantly reduced the threat of release of hazardous substances posed by the facility and the site. EPA has performed two time-critical removal actions: first in 2002, EPA covered the holding basin and an old landfill on site, and erected a fence around the site; the second in 2008, removed containers of hazardous and flammable materials from the facility buildings. Mass DEP, with U.S. Army Funding, removed more than 3,800 drums of depleted uranium in 2006. EPA expects to issue a Record of Decision for the site within the next 16 months.