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See also EPA TO TEST SOIL FOR ASBESTOS CONTAMINATION
Source of this EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) press release and related information:
Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)
For Immediate Release: March 19, 2001; Release # 01-03-13
No Immediate Health Risk Found from Asbestos at W.R. Grace Site in Cambridge
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that asbestos levels in soil samples collected recently at and near the W.R. Grace property in North Cambridge pose no immediate or long-term health threat as long as the site remains undisturbed. Based on that finding and EPA's own analysis, EPA will not undertake any cleanup activities at the site, which includes the W.R. Grace property, an adjacent commercial property, MBTA properties, and nearby city-owned land.
"This report is good news," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "North Cambridge residents should feel comfortable that these properties do not pose a threat and that living in this neighborhood is safe. We will, of course, work with the state to make sure that any future actions on these properties are done with the 100 percent safety of the neighborhood in mind."
EPA's decision was based largely on a health consultation prepared at EPA's request by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The evaluation was based on the results of more than 50 surface soil samples collected last September by EPA. The surface samples showed only trace amounts of asbestos.
Specifically, the health consultation concluded that "Based on the sampling results provided, the asbestos levels present in the surface soils do not pose an immediate or long-term public health hazard." The report also stated that "Subsurface asbestos contamination does not pose an immediate health hazard as long as the waste remains buried." Previous testing by W.R. Grace and the city of Cambridge had indicated that there were significant amounts of asbestos below the surface.
With the decision not to conduct a cleanup, EPA has completed its work at the site by the Superfund Removal Program. The site continues to remain under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup. Under the DEP's regulations, activities which will disturb soil at the site must be conducted in a manner that is protective of public health.
EPA decided to evaluate the site after receiving letters from neighbors concerned about possible asbestos use at the facility. What is now the Grace property has been in industrial or commercial use since the 1800s. Former uses included clay mining operations, a railroad, lumberyard, brickyard, ice cream factory, and chemical company.
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