Alewife Study Group
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Development and Environmental Issues that Impact the Alewife Region of North Cambridge, Massachusetts
(including the proposed development of the W. R. Grace site)

More than 335 pages - more than 340,000 words - in more than 235 documents - including 6 maps.

Meetings (2005) — also Background, and History
(on this page)

Alewife Study Group 2018 Updates
April 2018 (PDF file) — summarizes the history of Alewife Study Group and the WR Grace (GCP) site, the extent of asbestos contamination on the site, the risks associated with asbestos and specific regulations governing soil disturbance at Grace . . .

July 2018 (PDF file) — In April 2018 CDM Smith Inc, who were hired by the City, was testing Russell Field soils for asbestos and other toxins . . .

2005 updates
Letters from State Representatives Anne Paulsen and Alice Wolf
February 10, 2005
Indictment — W. R. Grace and 7 high-ranking employees (including O. Mario Favorito, chief legal counsel) for hiding cancer risk of Libby, Montana mine

W. R. Grace revised Activity and Use Limitation — Links to 4 PDF files on this website and the accompanying email.

The Alewife Study Group - concerned neighborhood residents
A 1999 statement about the group and one result of its work: the first-in-the-nation asbestos protection ordinance (including important tent-and-vent requirement), passed unanimously by the Cambridge City Council November 1, 1999.

Asbestos and other toxic materials were found at the W. R. Grace Site,
which is next to Russell Field, where many children play. Construction planned for the W. R. Grace Site can stir up asbestos, affecting these children and the entire neighborhood.

Meetings, etc.
  Background and History — by subject
by time, (below, on this page)

Meetings and Events - upcoming
Tuesday, March 29, 4 pm, Cambridge City Hall (Sullivan Chamber)
The Health and Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing to review the current status of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan for the W.R. Grace Alewife site on file with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in particular W.R. Grace's proposed exit strategy and the community response to that proposal.

Meetings and Events - recent
W. R. Grace public meeting - RTN 3-0277
December 16, 2004 at W. R. Grace, Cambridge
(Flyer and press release are Adobe Acrobat files. When printing flyer select "shrink oversized pages to paper size" or similar printer option.)
Free Acrobat reader at

Events sponsored/publicized in whole or part by Friends of Alewife Reservation are listed at For information or to volunteer contact Ellen Mass (617) 547-1944,

W. R. Grace - asbestos - Libby, Montana
- in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Includes links to articles and to related link pages.
"Almost everyone believes that the mining, production, sale and use of asbestos in America has been banned. They're wrong. Since November 1999 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has published a series of reports on the continuing risks posed by the nation's asbestos legacy."
  copyright 1999-2000 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Maps of W. R. Grace site, Cambridge MA (and nearby areas)
Overview - W. R. Grace site - planned construction, asbestos, other contaminants, floodplain
Brief history, 1919 - now
Detailed information from community feedback
W. R. Grace Site Advisory Committee, 1996, report

Public Health and Contamination

Protecting Kids from Asbestos
Asbestos protection ordinance - full text
Asbestos protection ordinance background
Asbestos manufactured at W. R. Grace site
W. R. Grace's sampling plan incomplete - 1998
Other websites on health risks and legal actions

Wetlands and Flooding
Improving Cambridge's wetland protection laws
Wetlands / wildlife - W. R. Grace site
Flooding could cause basement contamination
Flooding and Oaktree Development

Government meetings, communications, and candidates
(city, state, and federal; 1995 - now)

Other Alewife events
sponsored by groups or people not affiliated with the Alewife Study Group.
  • Alewife Reservation wildlife tour
  • Belmont Land Trust
  • Coalition for Alewife
  • Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR)
  • Friends of Linear Park (FLiP)
W. R. Grace, worldwide
" Grace Co. fought asbestos label...Insulation maker feared that a warning would hurt sales..." Boston Globe, Feb. 14, 2000
Other websites on W. R. Grace's toxic problems

Groups working to preserve Alewife area
link to a member's website

Background and History — by time

Asbestos and $: W. R. Grace in Cambridge
  • Grace site and asbestos - maps: previous development plans; places where asbestos was found.

  • 2004: 'Dirty' company to clean field (Russell Field, Asbestos Ordinance, more)
    "W.R. Grace, which abuts the property, may also [be] responsible for some of the contamination, said Susanne Rasmussen, the city's director of environmental and transportation planning."
  • 2004: City owed $7.6m in back taxes
    ". . . and W.R. Grace ($235,745) round out the top five"
    The above two 5/13/2004 Cambridge Chronicle articles are complete texts reproduced with permission of the Chronicle's editor (thanks!).
  • 2001: W. R. Grace digs utility trench at 62 Whittemore Ave. - Alewife Study Group flyer.
    "Grace submitted a plan for the excavation which fails to meet three requirements of the City of Cambridge Asbestos Protection Ordinance . . ."
    (Grace later adopted a better plan proposed by an Alewife Study Group member.)
  • 2000: New York Times article "E.P.A. to Assess if Contaminated Sports Field Imperils Health"
    Includes EPA plans to check W. R. Grace site.
    "The big question is, why was a playing field used as a staging area for toxic waste?" this quote, at end of article, is from Joe Joseph (of Alewife Study Group)
  • 1999: Cambridge's Asbestos Protection Ordinance - first-in-the-nation; the official text.
    "Jurisdiction. Any property found by the Commissioner to contain asbestos-contaminated soil or documented to the Commissioner's satisfaction to have been the site of past industrial asbestos on-site handling, disposal, processing or manufacturing, shall be subject to the provisions of this ordinance."
  • 1999: Transcripts of W. R. Grace public meetings - made by a court reporter; provided by W. R. Grace.
  • 1997: Asbestos manufactured at W. R. Grace site (under ownership and operation by Dewey and Almy) - letter to Department of Environmental Protection and others from Alewife Study Group members.
    ". . . the history of chemical processing and production by W. R. Grace at the 62 Whittemore Avenue facility provided by Haley and Aldrich for their client W. R. Grace . . . is substantially incomplete."
  • 1996: Report by Grace Site Advisory Committee of Cambridge City Council.
    "Remediation and construction on-site
    1. Use best practices to protect workers, passers-by, and neighbors from airborne particles."

  • 1995 - 2004: What the Community said - links to about 50 documents
  • 1995 - 2004: Official documents - from Haley & Aldrich (a "consulting firm that specializes in underground engineering, environmental science, and environmental management consulting"), Cambridge City Council, Alewife Study Group, and more.

  • History, by decades, of W. R. Grace site

Asbestos and $: W. R. Grace in Montana, mesothelioma cancer, and more
  • Links - more than 20 links to lawyer, newspaper, university, and other web pages.

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

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