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The Natick Laboratory Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center (Natick Laboratory) is a 78-acre facility in Natick, Massachusetts occupying a peninsula on the eastern shore of the Lake Cochituate State Park and Recreation Area.  The site is bordered on the north and west by residential areas.

The Army purchased the site property in 1949 from the Metropolitan District Commission. At the time of purchase, the area was primarily used as a forested recreation area; it also included a gravel pit in what is now the Building T-25 Area. The Army built the Natick Laboratory in 1954 and has since used the area for industrial, laboratory and storage activities for research and development in the areas of food science, aero-mechanical, clothing, material and equipment engineering.

During its operation, the Army used a variety of substances including: the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, carbon disulfide, benzene, chloroform and acetone; "standard laboratory chemicals;" mineral spirits/turpentine; paints; inks; lubricants; gasoline; tetraethyl lead, a gasoline additive; pesticides; and metal dusts. In addition, radioactive materials and chemical agents were used for food irradiation, tracer studies and clothing absorption tests.

In 1989, personnel at the facility noticed a sheen on site runoff water generated during rainstorms. Construction workers also noticed a benzene-like odor in soil near a boring drilled for the construction of a gymnasium on site. The Army conducted soil gas surveys in the Building T-25 and Gymnasium Areas and detected several types of VOCs. In addition, soil, groundwater and surface water samples revealed elevated levels of VOCs and a variety of heavy metals such as barium, arsenic, copper, chromium, lead and zinc. Other potential sources of contamination have been identified near the laboratory. Petroleum, organic compounds and chlorinated solvents have been discovered in soil and groundwater on a property previously used as a laundromat, which is located about 3,600 feet from the Army's facility. Several other potential sources of groundwater contamination, including automotive garages and other laundromats, have been identified.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is being addressed through federal actions. EPA added the site to the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994. Cleanup activities included ground water containment, treatment and monitoring; soil excavation and removal; and sediment removal. The U.S. Army is leading site investigations and cleanup.  A Five Year Review in 2017 concluded that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment.

Former Gym Site: Excavation of contaminated soils finished in the spring of 2002. An additional monitoring well was installed in 2003. After additional monitoring, the Army determined in 2007 that no further action was needed.

T-25 and Main Outfall: Ecological risk assessments indicated a probability of risk to the benthic community and a potential for aquatic food chain exposures to occur in the sediments, but no unacceptable risk for exposures to the surface water.  Concentrations of chemicals of ecological concern in fish and in the sediment-based aquatic food chain do not pose unacceptable risk to wildlife.

A human health fish consumption pathway evaluation in 2005 verified the Massachusetts Department of Public Health fish consumption restriction for sensitive populations. Additional fish tissue studies followed in the fall of 2007. The Army successfully removed contaminated sediment in Pegan Cove during 2010.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.


Institutional controls are required for this site.
This site requires ICs because a decision document, such as a Record of Decision, has documented some level of contamination and/or remedy component at the site that would restrict use of the site. These ICs are required to help ensure the site is used in an appropriate way and that activities at the site do not damage the cleanup components. These ICs will remain in place for as long as the contamination and/or cleanup components stay on site. The site contacts should be consulted if there are questions on the ICs for this site.
The following IC Instruments provide media-specific use restrictions that have been implemented by EPA for protecting human health, the environment and remedial engineering on this site. Instruments are documents used by EPA or other organizations to implement the use restrictions at a site. To know about other media-specific use restrictions that are planned but not implemented at this site, please contact the Regional Office using the Site Contact listed above.
Click here for IC Instruments implemented for this site.

To contact EPA regarding Institutional Controls and/or activity and use limitations, please complete this form.

ICs are generally defined as administrative and legal tools that do not involve construction or physically changing the site. Common examples of ICs include site use and excavation restrictions put in place through State and local authorities like zoning, permits and easements. ICs are normally used when waste is left onsite and when there is a limit to the activities that can safely take place at the site (i.e., the site cannot support unlimited use and unrestricted exposure) and/or when cleanup components of the remedy remains onsite (e.g., landfill caps, pumping equipment or pipelines). Effective ICs help ensure that these sites can be returned to safe and beneficial use.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided by EPA as an informational tool to further assist the public in determining the types of restrictions that may be in place at National Priorities List sites being addressed by EPA under the Superfund program. In addition to the areas addressed by the institutional controls identified on this web site there may be other areas on the property that require restrictions on use of the property that are not captured in this EPA database. States and other entities may have implemented laws or restrictions applicable to this site. The information provided herein does not replace a title search or meet "All Appropriate Inquiry" requirements. U.S. EPA encourages users to review the Site files to obtain information regarding remedy components, containment systems and the land use for which cleanup standards were selected for these sites. More information and links can be found in the Institutional Control instrument collection of document, above, and the EPA regional offices may also be contacted.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Army monitors the institutional controls annually and the groundwater semi-annually.

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