Plan for contaminated Cumberland site due within days

Plan for contaminated Cumberland site due within days

CUMBERLAND – Though cleanup action at the Peterson/Puritan Superfund site might appear slow, say representatives planning the work, there is actually plenty of activity going on behind Stop & Shop on Mendon Road.

Early work includes removal of some 500 or more tires from the old landfill for off-site recycling, as well as extensive testing for parties to learn exactly what they’re facing.

An official cleanup plan is expected to be submitted in the next couple of weeks based on that testing work, according to representatives from Woodard & Curran, the engineering firm doing a lot of the site work.

A remedial action group representing the responsible parties completed early action activities on a former waste transfer site here, the Nunes Parcel, this spring and summer.

“This is not part of the Superfund remedy, but necessary to ensure the site remains safe and as aesthetically presentable as possible for the community,” said Alan Benevides, of Woodard & Curran.

Other work being done this summer, according to Benevides includes:

• Demolition of the abandoned transfer station structure;
• Removal and replacement of the fencing and gate at the site entrance area;
• Repairing of the fence at J.M. Mills Landfill;
• Collection and dismantling of steel truck bodies and scrap tanks for removal;
• Disassembling of concrete bunker sections for removal and/or recycling;
• And grass seeding along travel routes. This work allows for travel routes to be widened up to and at the site and for vehicles to turn around, according to Benevides.

The target site for the long-planned cleanup of the Peterson-Puritan property includes the former J.M. Mills Landfill, the Nunes Parcel, an unnamed island in the Blackstone River, and adjacent wetlands.

The remedial action group doing the work is a small percentage of the businesses, companies and municipalities who were customers of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s permitted landfill at the site during its 30 years of operation from 1954 to the 1980s. The 20-member group includes a number of local Rhode Island companies.

Woodard & Curran was hired through the 20 responsible parties, and the company has been working on this project along with numerous vendors for quite some time.
Benevides said even though it might look like there’s not a lot going on during any given day, there’s a lot of testing going on, including submitting samples to the Environmental Protection Agency to get a real sense of how far down the waste is, how far it’s spread, and what’s removable and what’s not, so a plan can be submitted to really get the cleanup and covering of the site going.

Alice Clemente, of the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone, wrote in June that fieldwork included tests for gases, an inspection to determine whether any trash has spilled beyond the footprint of the site, and whether there has been any additional leaching.

Another study, due by the end of the summer before the design phase, would determine the exact nature of the cap to be installed, taking into account what was learned during pre-design field work.

The design phase could take up to two years, according to Clemente.

Once cleanup and capping of this site is completed in the next few years, officials envision a public recreation area.

A settlement reached in December of 2016 resolved federal and state liability claims against nearly 100 potentially responsible parties for the cleanup of the site. Under the settlement, 20 or so of the settling defendants became responsible for implementation of the remedy selected by EPA in 2015.

The area being cleaned, known as Operable Unit Two, is located adjacent to the Blackstone River. The parcels containing waste material were owned and operated as a single landfill operation by Joseph and Linda Marszalkowski through their business J.M. Mills Inc.

Over 30 years, some 2.1 million cubic yards of waste, much of it hazardous material, were disposed of at the site.