Welcome to the Alewife Study Group

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for visiting the Alewife Study Group’s (ASG) website. We’re so glad you’re here. We hope you find this site informative, and we invite you to get involved with ASG.

The next event for neighbors to know about, and attend is the City of  Cambridge’s Conservation Commission Site Visit (2/5/21) followed by their public meeting on 2/8/21. See here for more details: http://alewife.org/category/news/

In 2020, Biotech Developer IQHQ bought the 27-acre property (formerly owned by the W.R. Grace chemical company). The site is next to Russell Field and the Alewife T station and stretches from Rindge Ave to Whittemore Ave. This property is heavily contaminated with asbestos, metals, and hydrocarbons, is mostly in a floodplain, and includes Jerry’s Pond.

IQHQ announced their plans for the site and held a public meeting on Jan 21 (click here for the drawings). ASG held two community meetings: first on Jan 14 to prepare, and then after the IQHQ meeting on Jan 31 to debrief and discuss further. See below for our Jan 14 presentation (use the right bar to scroll down). We are presently compiling a report with neighbors’ concerns, questions, requests and ideas.

To see our 1/14/21 flyer translated into Bangla, español, Kreyòl Ayisyen, Hindi, 中文 – 国语 (Mandarin) or português(br), click here and then scroll down. 

Background:

For the past 25 years, ASG has worked to ensure an inclusive, participatory process on quality of life issues to mitigate the risks of hazardous waste such as asbestos and other contaminants, flooding, traffic, public health, environmental justice, climate resilience and the protection of habitats and natural resources. We seek to share what we have learned and to solicit feedback from the community on these issues.

We estimate this site has hundreds of tons of finely divided asbestos in the soil. How do we know about the volume of asbestos? Years of research, and testing of:

— 365 locations, 64 of which had asbestos (1 in 6 locations).
— More than 75% of samples where asbestos was found, contained greater than 1% (~1 lb per cubic foot).
— Asbestos was detected at greater than 1% in all zones.

ASG has been the longstanding neighborhood liaison with the property owner and we monitor the site to protect neighbors, ensuring no soil below 6 inches is disturbed and that the protocols are followed. If excavation below 6” is necessary, the property owner must do so within an enclosed structure under a slight vacuum – as per the Asbestos Protection Order (similar as to what homeowners must do when removing asbestos from their homes).

Trapped asbestos fibers (buried in soil or trapped in shingles, for example) do no harm, it is only when fibers become airborne that serious public health risks are triggered. The asbestos waste on this site is not solid lumps, but is so fine that it is invisible to the eye.

We welcome your questions and comments.  Interested in volunteering or coming to a meeting? Please email us here. We’ll be in touch.