Sediments and habitat quality at Mystic Lakes in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, have been injured by hazardous substances released at the Industri-Plex NPL site. Photo credit: EPA.
On May 17, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a 30-day public comment period on a proposed settlement with Bayer Cropscience, Inc. and Pharmacia Corp. for natural resource damages arising from hazardous substances releases at the Industri-Plex National Priorities Site in Woburn, Middlesex County, in northeastern Massachusetts. The proposed settlement is embodied in a Consent Decree that was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on May 10.
The natural resource trustees in this case include the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, represented by Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Industri-Plex site is a former manufacturing facility covering 250 acres bisected by the Aberjona River. Insecticides, explosives, acids, other chemicals and glue were manufactured by a variety of industries, at the site from 1853 to 1969. In 1983, the site was placed on the National Priorities List by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Portions of the site have since been remediated and redeveloped for both public and commercial uses.
The predecessors of Bayer Cropscience, Inc. and Pharmacia Corp. -- namely Stauffer Chemical Co. and Merrimac Chemical Co. -- have been found responsible for the release hazardous substances from the disposal of manufacturing byproducts and residues to pits, piles and lagoons at the site. These hazardous substances contaminated soils with elevated levels of metals such as arsenic, lead and chromium.
The natural resource trustees have determined that the hazardous substances disposed of by the settling companies or their predecessors have degraded wetland, river and lake habitat used by a variety of wildlife, including fish, turtles, amphibians and migratory birds, such as great blue herons, black ducks and kingfishers.
Under the proposed settlement in the lodged Consent Decree, the settling companies will:
The funds for restoration projects will be applied to: restoration projects planning; restoration projects implementation; restoration projects monitoring; and, associated administrative costs and expenses. Particular restoration projects have not yet been selected. Altogether, the total value of the settlement is $4.25 million.
Written comments regarding the lodged Consent Decree must be received by the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division by Monday, June 18, 2012.