Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Wilton Plant Disposal Site Contamination Testing Begins Soon

Monadnock Ledger – Transcript

Posted: 7/27/2022 11:50:52 AM

Modified: 07/27/2022 11:47:47 AM

Sample collection at a former industrial disposal site in downtown Wilton is expected to be completed within the next six weeks, according to National Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Ted Bazenas, section chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s emergency planning and response branch, said in an interview Tuesday that a federal court had granted the EPA access to the land for the next three months – with the possibility of extension if necessary – to test whether drums of sodium cyanide believed to be buried on the property have seeped into the surrounding soil.

The site has been investigated for the past several years by the state EPA, which has asked the federal agency to become involved in assisting with access to the property and possibly assisting with remediation if soil or l Air around the site is found to be contaminated with chemicals known to be buried at the site by Abbott Machine Company decades ago.

The national EPA conducts between 20 and 40 site investigations a year, based on state referrals, but not all result in site cleanups, Bazenas said — only about a third meet the threshold needed to remediate.

Karen Way, the on-site coordinator, is currently tending to the equipment needed to carry out the site investigation, which will include soil and air testing, and possibly bank or water testing. surface of Stoney Brook.

Samples will be sent for analysis to a regional laboratory in Chelmsford, Massachusetts for testing and to determine contamination levels, if any, a process that will take about two to four weeks, Bazenas said.

The analysis will focus on cyanide as a contaminant of concern, but will also test a list of other volatile organic compounds and contaminants.

“From what I know of the site, it seems certain that there were drums [of sodium cyanide] buried at the site, but to be able to be removed, what we’re really looking for is potential exposure,” Bazenas said. “If he stands there, solidly, it will be difficult to say that the criteria are met to come in and clean him up.”

If the findings pose a threat to public health, remediation efforts will begin. Bazenas said that often in cases where contamination can be traced to a specific source, the EPA will attempt to work with that entity or person to clean up the site, and they may be responsible for the costs. In this case, the land was once owned by the Abbott Machine Company and served as a disposal site. But the land has since been placed in a trust, which was eventually dissolved, without transferring the assets, and the city never took possession of the land. Bazenas said the federal branch of the EPA has a fund for cleaning up Superfund sites, and the murky ownership of the land will not be an impediment to its rehabilitation, if needed.

The drums are believed to be buried in a concrete structure. If there is no leak, the federal branch of the EPA will refer the matter to the New Hampshire Environmental Protection Agency for next steps.