Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Creese & Cook (Former) Tannery (Site) is located in Danvers, Massachusetts. Leather tanning operations on site led to contamination of surface and subsurface soils with tannery wastes, and contaminants exceeded state health-based standards in multiple locations.

The Site was used for disposal and treatment of hazardous substances from about 1903 until the early 1981. Three parcels of land at the Site were at one time owned by the Creese and Cook Tannery Co., which operated a tannery and finishing facility onsite. Leather tanning and finishing operations began in 1903 at the 33 Water Street parcel, on the East Study Area (ESA), which is located east of the Crane River. In 1914 most operations, except for finishing operations and offices, moved to a larger new facility at 55 Clinton Avenue, on the West Study Area (WSA), which is located west of the Crane River.  Creese & Cook used raw animal hides to produce leather shoes, handbags, gloves and garment leather, primarily from cowhide stock. The tannery continued to operate on both sides of Crane River until 1981. Hebb Leather also operated at the Site. Creese & Cook and Hebb Leather each filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in 1982.

Wastes from tanning operations were disposed of in two landfills on the Clinton Avenue property. Liquid effluent was discharged to the Crane River until 1975 and later to sewers, while sludge waste was deposited in an on-site lagoon system.

EPA added the site to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in May 2013.  In 2012, EPA conducted a Removal Action to remove 450 tons of arsenic contaminated soil from behind building D that were above MassDEP standards.

EPA issued a Record of Decision for the cleanup of the West Study and East Study Areas of the Site in July of 2019.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Since the mid-1980s, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) oversaw numerous investigations and response actions at some of the properties that comprise the Site, including fencing of Imminent Hazard Areas which contain high levels of arsenic in soil, and the construction of a waste disposal cell at the 55 Clinton Avenue parcel.  However, MassDEP eventually requested that EPA evaluate these properties to determine if the area would become eligible for inclusion on the National Priorities List (“NPL”).  The Site was proposed for inclusion on the NPL in September 2012 and included in the final listing of NPL sites in 2013. In addition, in 2012, EPA conducted a removal action and removed 450 tons of arsenic-contaminated soil at 33 Water Street to address arsenic in soil adjacent to condominium building D.  From 2014 to 2017, EPA conducted extensive sampling and completed a west and east Remedial Investigation (RI), a west and east ecological risk assessment and a human health risk assessment for both the west and east study area.  EPA issued a Record of Decision in July of 2019, to document EPA's clean-up actions for the East and West Study Areas at the Site

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is being addressed through federal and state actions and the cleanup is being conducted under EPA's Superfund program as a Fund Lead project. EPA's contractor completed Remedial Investigations (RIs) on both the West Study Area (WSA) and East Study (ESA) to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the Site and to identify any unacceptable risks to human health and/or the environment. The ESA RI was finalized in March of 2018, and the WSA RI and Feasibility Study (FS), for both the WSA and ESA, were finalized in September 2018. The FS evaluates the most viable and cost effective cleanup measures to implement.  EPA issued a Record of Decision in July of 2019, to document EPA's clean-up actions for the East and West Study Areas at the Site. EPA is currently evalauting contractors to complete the Remedial Design. In addition, an EPA removal action will be completed at 45 Water Street in 2020.

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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.

As part of EPA's cleanup plan, institutional controls will be placed on certains parcels of land at the Site to restrict land uses that would pose unacceptable risks and to prohibit activities that could damage the remedies. 

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Sampling and Monitoring

Pre-design sampling will be conducted in 2020 to complete the Remedial Design.

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Green Remediation

Green remediation alternatives will be evalauted at part of the Remedial Design.

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Emergency Response and Removal

In 2012, EPA conducted a removal action to excavate and properly dispose of 450 tons of arsenic-contaminated soil at 33 Water Street to address arsenic in soil which posed an imminent hazard.  

In 2020, an EPA removal action will be completed at 45 Water Street.

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Enforcement Information

EPA is currently investigating past and current property owners, as well as previous developers, to determine potential liability for conducting a clean-up actvities and for payment of past past costs, at the Site.

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