Alewife Study Group > W. R. Grace site > community feedback > Feb. 22 2001, on Feb. 21 EPA press release Search 

A resident's comments, on WBUR,
about Feb. 21 EPA press release on Assessment of Sampling From W.R. Grace site

See also EPA press release: EPA Begins Assessment of Sampling From W.R. Grace site in North Cambridge

Mike Nakagawa, a member of the Alewife Study Group, was interviewed by WBUR, a Boston NPR (National Public Radio) station. Mike provided WBUR's transcript, below, and additional comments.

Transcript of the WBUR radio report on Friday morning February 23, 2001:

"Some residents of North Cambridge are concerned about preliminary test results from soil at the W-R Grace site, where a hotel and office building complex is on hold. Those tests show very low asbestos levels in surface soil

"Resident MIKE na-ka-GAH-wa says he's worried that W-R Grace will resume construction, and dig up asbestos deeper underground.

[12 second quote, which was not transcribed]

"W-R Grace hasn't return [sic] calls for comment. The E-P-A says asbestos that exists deeper underground isn't a problem, unless it's disturbed."

Mike Nakagawa's comments on the WBUR reporting:

I caught the edge of yesterday afternoon's [February 22, 2001] 4:35 report, which called me an "activist" instead of "resident" and said more about the EPA saying that the report applied to "current conditions."

I don't know which 12 seconds of my interview they broadcast.

Mike Nakagawa's working notes, in preparation for the interview:

We are more concerned with asbestos buried at deeper levels than the top 3 inches of soil in the latest analysis. While the initial data seems to indicate that under the current conditions, the neighbors and children playing at the adjacent city-owned football, soccer, and baseball sports fields may not be exposed to a serious health threat, our concern was with soil disruption during the planned construction of an offic and hotel complex at their site across from the Alewife T-station. One engineering analysis estimated 600,000 to over a million pounds of asbestos primarily in the slightly deeper soil, but in the top few feet. Since asbestos causes cancer and does not degrade, dissolve, or evaporate, and cannot be removed from the body once lodged in the tissues, any exposure presents a long-term health threat. We would prefer to leave the asbestos undisturbed and covered over by vegetation, as it is in its current state, and hope the EPA will make such a recommendation based on the results of the extensive previous testing. The latest study only applies to current use and does not consider the impact of future development, so we don't want developers to extrapolate the results to future site activities.

Contact the Alewife Study Group, North Cambridge Massachusetts, by email at