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For Immediate Release
W. R. Grace & Co.
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., June 12, 2000 -W. R. Grace & Co. announced today its decision to postpone indefinitely its plans to develop a residence hotel and two commercial office buildings on its property in North Cambridge. This decision was taken in response to the concerns raised by residential neighbors that disturbance of soil be minimized, and it underscores Grace's desire to focus the efforts of all concerned on the development of a plan to manage the asbestos found in soils at the site.
Haley & Aldrich, an engineering and environmental consulting firm, retained by Grace, is preparing for comment by the City of Cambridge, DEP, EPA and neighborhood groups a plan to address and remedy, appropriately, any presence of asbestos found in soils at the site. This plan will be made available for review and response by all concerned.
In a statement, John Wardzel, Grace's Vice President, Engineering and Manufacturing Support said, "Grace and its predecessor Dewey and Almy have been a member of this neighborhood for almost a century, and we employ more than 350 people here. A key component of our company's Vision and Values is to be a responsible neighbor in the communities in which we operate our businesses. Over the last year it has become increasingly clear that concerns about possible development have overshadowed efforts to develop a formal plan to manage the asbestos found in soils at the site.
"As a result, Grace has concluded that it should postpone its development plans for a residence hotel and two commercial office buildings indefinitely. This will allow all concerned to focus on the development of a plan to manage the asbestos found in soils on the site."
Wardzel emphasized that "a risk to human health does not exist at the site." He pledged that Grace would continue its efforts to work cooperatively with the neighborhood, the DEP and the EPA.
W. R. Grace & Co. is a leading global supplier of catalysts and silica products, specialty construction chemicals and building materials and container protection products. With annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion, Grace has over 6,000 employees in more than 40 countries. Visit the Grace website at www.grace.com.
Possible Questions & Answers
Related to Indefinitely Postponing Construction
On the Grace Cambridge Site
WAS YOUR HALTING OF CONSTRUCTION DUE TO PRESSURE FROM THE NEIGHBORS?
No. We have continually cooperated with the neighbors in this process and our decision is totally in the spirit of being responsive to our neighbor’s concerns and not from any threats or pressure.
IS THIS JUST A MORATORIUM. OR WILL YOU PLEDGE TO NEVER BUILD ON THE CAMBRIDGE SITE?
We cannot forever give up the right to development on the site since we have a responsibility to maintain the value of the property. But again, we have postponed indefinitely our development efforts.
WAS YOUR HALTING OF CONSTRUCTION DUE TO PRESSURE FROM THE EPA?
No. We have continually cooperated with the neighbors in this process and our decision is totally in the spirit of being responsive to our neighbor’s concerns and not from any threats or outside pressure.
WHY DID GRACE CHANGE ITS MIND ABOUT DEVELOPING THE PROPERTY?
We have made the commitment to be a good corporate citizen for the forty plus years we have been in North Cambridge. As part of that commitment, we carefully listened to ongoing neighbor’s concerns and decided to positively respond to those concerns.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MINIMIZE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS?
In the spirit of responsiveness to community concerns, Grace committed to undertake an asbestos soil sampling program and shared those samples with both the City of Cambridge and the Alewife Study Group. We are additionally preparing an Airborne Asbestos Management and Monitoring Plan (AAMP) for the site with the assumption that asbestos exists in all soils at the site. Grace will stringently adhere to preventative methods set forth which will include a plan to cover the site with fill material. And finally, as evidence of Grace’s resolve to keep site disturbing activities to a minimum, Grace intends to utilize enhanced bio techniques for remedial action related to extractable petroleum hydrocarbons which exist at one location on the site. .
YOU HAVE DECIDED AGAINST BUILDING A HOTEL, RETAIL SPACE AND OFFICE BUILDINGS, BUT WILL YOU EXPAND THE GRACE PERFORMANCE CHEMICALS HEADQUARTERS BUILDING?
If our company continues to grow as it has over the past four years, we must reserve the right to add on to our existing building. But this would be done without a disruption of the soil on the site in question.
WHY DID GRACE WAIT SO LONG TO INDEFINITELY POSTPONE THIS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT?
Based on scientific testing, we were and continue to be of the opinion that the construction would have progressed in a manner that would pose no unreasonable risk to anyone. But we also respect our neighbor’s perceptions that even any remote chance of risk was not in the best interest of those living in the surrounding residential area.
The above press release, along with the "Possible Questions & Answers" was provided by
W. R. Grace, along with the note below
"Attached is the release on the indefinite postponement of the Cambridge site construction.
Harding Ounanian, Jr.
Contact the Alewife Study Group, North Cambridge Massachusetts, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org