Wynn Everett officials unveiled details last week about the environmental cleanup of the future casino site on Lower Broadway, once home to the noxious chemical franchise Monsanto.
Jamie Fay of Ft. Point Associates in Boston said they have a good idea of the three major areas of pollution on the site, and that his company learned a good deal when working on the Big Dig – lessons that he said would be applied to the Everett cleanup in the coming months.
“We spent 13 years working on the Central Artery project and managed the environmental reporting review process,” he told a crowd gathered at a public meeting in Charlestown on Feb. 11. “We learned a lot from that project about how to do this well. A lot of those lessons will be incorporated into this project.”
“We see this development as an opportunity to really correct the sins of the past,” he continued. “We will remediate this to where its safe for open space and outdoors play. It’s really going to be remediated to a very high standard that you don’t really see in these projects. If it’s a shopping mall or a housing development, you remediate the soil and then pave over the rest of the area and call it a day. Here we intend to remediate to a higher level so that Everett and Charlestown residents can reclaim that waterfront and open space.”
One of the more interesting tidbits to Fay’s discussion – at least historically speaking – was that the site and the waterfront there were once a very highly-valued and intensively-used oyster farm.
“We actually found out that the original owner of the Union Oyster House in Boston operated an oyster farm there and an oyster flat that he used to harvest oysters to serve in his restaurant,” he said. “At one time this was a very lovely estuary with tremendous environmental resources.”
Fay said the site has three major pollution areas of concern.
The first two areas contain arsenic, lead and other heavy metals – common pollutants in Boston’s old industrial waterfront sites. The first of those sites is in the central area on the waterfront just north of the giant windmill. The second such site is far to the back of the site adjacent to the MBTA Maintenance Yard.
Those two sites will be subject to complete excavation of soils that will be removed by truck and replaced with new soils.
“All this really highly contaminated soils are going to be shipped in closed containers like a giant Ziploc bag or a sealed truck,” Fay said. “Three are not going to be open trucks or dump trucks like you might see on the streets. We’ll also have a washing station for the wheels of all the trucks to go through before leaving the site so that contaminated soils don’t get spread to city streets.”
He said that dust particles in the air will be monitored as well as air quality.
All materials, he said, would be shipped to licensed disposal sites – as is standard clean up procedure.
The third site will be a little different, as it is contaminated from the years of making sulfuric acid. It is located right on the waterfront area and is responsible for the orange seepage that is easily seen coming out of the ground and into the Mystic River.
“That site has a low Ph. and so it is acidic,” Fay said. “One activity that took place there was the manufacture of sulfuric acid and there are remnants of that still in the soil.”
To remediate that area, Fay said they would use a technique called In-Situ Solidification/Stabilization.
That process entails, he said, using dry cement to mix with the contaminated soils to neutralize the acidic content. With cement being more of a base with a high Ph., the mixture with the low Ph. soil is expected to neutralize it.
Other areas for excavation of soil will include the footprint of the underground parking garage in the central part of the site.
Finally, Fay said there would be the placement of uncontaminated soil caps on any areas not covered by buildings or pavement.
One of the largest questions facing the clean up at the moment is what direction the trucks will be going to access the route to the disposal site.
“That won’t be determined until we know where the disposal site are at,” Fay said.
“None of the vehicles will go to residential streets,” he added. “They will have to stay on a truck route to get to an interstate highway.”
He said they will have a better idea of the truck routes in the next six months when bids for the remediation efforts go out.
Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Everett, said he is committed to having further meetings with Charlestown and Everett about that route and the status of the cleanup.
“We’re making that commitment,” he said. “We plan to have other meetings.”