Trustees Release Final Restoration Plan for Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump NPL Site in Ashland, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Last edited 09/03/2020

wild rice in the Sudbury River, Massachusetts
Restoration of native wild rice (Zizania aquatica), shown here along the Sudbury River in eastern Massachusetts, will be undertaken after controlling invasive aquatic vegetation. Native wild rice provides an important food source for migratory waterfowl and other birds in the Sudbury River watershed. Photo credit: Ron McAdow, Sudbury Valley Trustees.

On September 4, 2012, the federal and State natural resource trustees released the final, publicly-reviewed “Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund Site.” This Restoration Plan details actions to be undertaken to by the natural resource trustees to restore natural resources and natural resource services injured by hazardous substances releases at the Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump NPL site in Ashland, Middlesex County, in the MetroWest area of eastern Massachusetts.

The natural resource trustees in this case include:

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts, represented by Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection;
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and,
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump is a 35-acre site located adjacent to an active industrial complex. Historical industrial operations at the site from 1917 to 1978 released large volumes of wastewater contaminated with acids, organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals. Of particular concern among the released hazardous substances is the chromium and mercury that were used as catalysts in the production of textile dyes. Over 45,000 tons of chemical sludges, together with spent solvents and other chemical wastes, were buried on the site. Some of these wastes were discharged to the Sudbury River. As a result, groundwater, soils, sediments and surface waters are contaminated with heavy metals and chlorinated organic compounds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump on the National Priorities List in 1983.

These hazardous substances releases from the site injured natural resources and natural resource services. In 1998, the trustees settled natural resource damage claims for more than $3 million: $2.8 million for restoration projects and $230,769 to the Commonwealth for groundwater injuries. Interest earned on these settlement funds since then has increased the total amount of funding for restoration activities to almost $3.7 million.

This final Restoration Plan selects 11 preferred projects to restore injured natural resources and natural resource services. Together, these projects are intended to accomplish restoration in the Sudbury River watershed by:

  • restoring migratory and coldwater fish habitat;
  • protecting land to conserve wildlife habitat;
  • creating public access to the Sudbury River;
  • creating a nature preserve in Framingham and Ashland; and,
  • controlling invasive aquatic weeds to improve recreation, wildlife habitats and diversity.

Implementation of the restoration projects will begin soon.

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