Trustees Launch Cooperative International Project to Restore Natural Resources Injured at Superfund Site in Ashland, Massachusetts

Last edited 09/25/2020


The Arnulfo family and a BFREE representative on February 28, holding cacao fruits, at the reforestation project’s new plant nursery in the community of Trio in Toledo District in southern Belize. The restoration project will benefit migratory neotropical songbirds by enhancing overwintering habitat. Photo credit: BFREE.

On February 28, 2013, the federal and State natural resource trustees together with cooperating partners launched an international, natural resource restoration project intended 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 released large volumes of wastewater contaminated with acids, organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals. 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.

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 increased the total amount of funding for restoration activities to almost $3.7 million. The trustees released a publicly-reviewed Restoration Plan in September, 2012, identifying projects intended to restore injured natural resources and natural resource services.

Using $50,000 of these settlement funds, the trustees have launched a cooperative, natural resource restoration project in Central America. In a partnership with Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education and local farmers, the trustees are undertaking a reforestation project in the community of Trio in the northern part of Toledo District in southern Belize.

The project, described in Section 4 of the Restoration Plan, is intended to benefit migratory neotropical songbirds -- such as warblers, flycatchers and thrushes -- injured by the hazardous substances releases by preserving and enhancing overwintering habitat. Three farmers in the community have signed up so far to participate in the reforestation project.

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