Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Nuclear Metals, Inc. site – also known as the Starmet Corporation site – is located on a 46-acre parcel in Concord, Massachusetts. Nuclear Metals made depleted uranium products, primarily for armor-piercing ammunition. It also manufactured metal powders for medical applications, photocopiers, and specialty metal products such as beryllium tubing used in the aerospace industry. From 1958 to 1985, waste was discharged into an unlined holding basin. Facility operations contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, the site’s long-term cleanup is ongoing.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. Removal of 8,000 cubic yards of soil from the holding basin by Starmet under the oversight of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has reduced the threat of potential exposure at the site. Two time-critical removal actions have prevented contact with hazardous and radioactive material by 1) lining the holding basin to reduce potential exposure to contaminated dust and limit further contamination of groundwater, and installing a fence and capping an on-site landfill to reduce potential exposures to nearby residents; and 2) removing hazardous and flammable materials from within the facility buildings. More than 3,800 drums of depleted uranium and other materials were removed from the facility by MassDEP with U.S. Army funding. Equipment and materials containing hazardous and radioactive material have been removed from the facility buildings and in August 2016, the building demolition and temporary capping of the former building area was completed under a non-time critical removal action.  Site-wide contaminated groundwater, soil and sediment will be address under the Remedial Design/Remdial Action phase of the cleanup as specified in the 2015 ROD.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The Feasibility Study (which evaluates cleanup alternatives) was completed in October 2014 and the Proposed Plan outlining EPA’s preferred alternative was issued in November 2014. EPA’s cleanup decision document, called the Record of Decision (ROD), was issued on September 28, 2015 and addresses site-wide contamination of groundwater, site soils and sediments.  This comprehensive $125 million remedy includes excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 82,500 cubic yards of contaminated materials, stabilization and capping of materials within the "Holding Basin" area of the site, in-situ and ex-situ treatment of contaminated groundwater.  The ROD also included an Action Memo to accelerate a portion of the groundwater cleanup as a non-time critical removal action while negotiations proceed for implementation of the full remedy.  This groundwater removal action bgan in early 2016 and in May 2017, a groundwater extraction well began pumping to a temporary treatment system to capture and prevent site contaminants in groundwater from reaching the Town of Acton water supply well Assabet 1A.  As part of this removal action, pilot treatment studies are being performed to determine the best demonstrated available treatment (BDAT)technology to utilize for the permanent long term groundwater facility.  This removal action is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Two areas containing buried drums and other laboratory equipment were located during a removal assessment to determine if buried drums on site contained hazardous material. Cleanup in 2002 included installation of fencing around the old landfill area where buried drums were located, regrading and capping the old landfill area, and installation of a liner in the holding basin to eliminate fugitive dust and reduce contaminated soils leaching into groundwater.

A second time-critical removal action in January 2008 addressed the lab chemicals and other flammable/hazardous materials inside buildings. This action finished in September 2008.

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