After decades of toxic dormancy on the old Monsanto site, a Boston company will begin removing the environmental sins of the past from the former chemical plant this week in preparation for construction on the Wynn Everett casino.
In dual meetings last week in Everett on Tuesday night, and in Charlestown last Wednesday night, Wynn Everett officials announced that the remediation clean up contractor will be Charter Environmental of Boston – headquartered on Harrison Avenue in the South End.
GZA GeoEngineering of Malden will continue on as the engineering firm with licensed site professionals overseeing Charter’s work – including well-known GZA principle Larry Feldman.
“We have had a very aggressive bidding process and had several companies to choose from,” said Wynn consultant Chris Gordon at the Everett meeting. “Charter Contracting Company has been chosen as our remediation contractor. They do this work all over the country and they’re local so they know what’s going on around here.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria announced the clean up start at the outset of the Everett meeting, an announcement followed by applause from many of the residents of The Line neighborhood.
“This coming Thursday (Oct. 22), we will start the clean up down there,” he said. “A lot of you have dealt with that contaminated piece of land for 40 or 50 years. Now that’s all going to change and we couldn’t ask for a better developer to come in here and clean this site up.”
Charter is also currently completing a major remediation near the Sears Building in the Fenway on the old Muddy River.
Charter will begin work this week on three “hot spots” at the Wynn site, expecting to remove 6,500 cubic yards of material containing arsenic and lead. They are expected to generate five to six truck trips per day from the site during the three to four-month clean up effort for a total of 12 daily round trips (six in and six out). There is no primary route for the trucks, but they will be accessing I-93 North and will likely use the shortest route, that being the route that navigates the northern side of Sullivan Square.
“We plan to start next week and go about four months,” said Gordon. “That will take us into the winter and winter doesn’t matter…We will continue working. Beginning early next year, we should be done.”
Charter President Robert Delhome said excavation of soils on the site would take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. – with truck trips happening during that same period.
The remediation portion of the clean up will focus on three hot spots – one in the back of the site near the railroad tracks, one in the middle of the site near the entrance and one spot on the inlet shoreline. Next spring, during the actual construction, much more soil will be removed from the site as the foundation work begins. At that time, less contaminated soils will be removed from all over the site, the shoreline will be remediated, and the navigational channel in the Mystic will be dredged. The third piece of environmental remediation will take place next fall, when the inlet on the site has soil sediment removed.
The back and middle “hot spots” contain soil that is heavily polluted with arsenic and lead. Those two spots will require soils to be trucked off-site.
The third spot only has a low pH from sulfur pollution, and that spot will be treated with a process called insitu-stabilization. The process requires mixing materials into the soil thoroughly to balance out the pH, and therefore does not require any soil to be removed from the spot.
The three hot spots were identified over the last year through almost 2,000 test borings done on the site and on the shoreline of the property. Using those borings, Wynn officials and GZA officials said they believe they know quite a bit about what is present in the ground.
“We think we have studied the site every way you can think of,” said Gordon. “It cost us millions of dollars to do all of those borings, but we wanted to know exactly what was there.”
Feldman said the contamination from the Monsanto site does not appear to have migrated to any neighboring properties. He said his firm has done some investigation on nearby properties and none of the Monsanto contamination showed any presence on those neighboring sites.
Delhome said most of the soil will be going to Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, NH. That will require a trip up I-93 North and then to I-95. More highly contaminated soils will go to two specialized landfills – namely U.S. Ecologics in Belleville, Michigan and Stablex Canada in Blainville, Quebec.
“The majority of the soils are going to be going to Turnkey in New Hampshire,” he said. “In the instance of high level contaminated soils, they will go to secure landfills in Michigan or a secure landfill in Canada.”
There are three truck routes identified, but only two will likely be used.
The first is to leave via Horizon Way and take Rt. 99 south to Sullivan Square and get on I-93 North. The second route is to take Horizon Way out of the site and travel on Rt. 99 north to Sweetser Circle, Santilli Circle and through Wellington to the I-93 onramp.
A third route will take drivers onto Revere Beach Parkway and then up Rt. 1 to New Hampshire, but that route – it was stated – would likely never be used.
Officials from Charter and Wynn, however, would not pinpoint any preferred route, but said that truckers will have the option of using Sullivan Square or Rt. 16 to Wellington.
“That soil will be mostly going to New Hampshire so we will need to get on 93 North in one way or another to get to New Hampshire,” said Delhome.
Added Gordon, “There is no primary route, but the truck drivers will want to get in and out of the area and onto 93 as quickly as possible.”
That likely means that most of the truck traffic – the 12 trips per day – will be coming through Sullivan Square on their way to the site and on their way out of the site.
Under no circumstances will trucks carrying soil be allowed to use local streets, Gordon said.
“I asked Bob (Delhome) what happens if a trucker takes a shortcut down a local street, and he said matter of factly, ‘They will be fired,’” said Gordon. “They won’t use that trucking company again if that happens.”
The trucks will be outfitted with a special liner that will be self-contained once it is filled. The truck tailgate will also be secure once it is closed and cannot mistakenly open while driving, Delhome said. He and GZA officials also went through a detailed emergency contingency plan that has been put in place in case a truck were to somehow have an accident that caused a breach of materials.
When it comes to dust, GZA officials unveiled a detailed plan that includes several solar-powered dust monitoring stations that will surround the site – and even go onto Broadway.
GZA’s David Leone said they are taking a conservative approach to the dust monitoring and have alarms that will trigger 24-hours a day.
“If any of the monitors on the system trigger an alarm for dust, we will know about it with a text on our phones,” he said. “If we get an alarm, we stop work. We diagnose the problem and fix the situation and then move on…We’re using a 15-minute time average to trigger an alarm. If a dust incident lasts 15 minutes, there will be an alarm. It takes about 24 hours for dust blowing in the neighborhood to have an impact, so we’re using a very conservative number with the 15 minutes…There will not be clouds of dust blowing around the streets as part of this remediation.”
Other issues addressed at the meeting included baiting for rats and the dissemination of information.
Gordon said the three remediation steps – which are scheduled to finish next fall with the inlet work – will restore the site to a point where people can recreate.
“When those three steps are done, the site is fine,” he said. “It will have an activity use limitation, but that’s normal. There won’t be anything that you can’t do on the site. You can picnic, walk your dog or sit in the grass.”
Finally, with the barrage of action that is preparing to happen next week with the clean up, several in the audience were concerned about whether the work could be all for naught if Boston Mayor Martin Walsh prevails in two pending lawsuits concerning the casino.
“Do you think with all these lawsuits that are being filed now, could that stop all this (remediation) work?” asked a neighbor of the project.
“No,” said Gordon – and nothing more.
Robert Delhome, president of Charter Environmental in Boston, introduced his firm at dual meetings this week in Everett and Charlestown as the winning bidder to clean up the Wynn casino site – a heavily polluted site that once housed Monsanto Chemical Company. Clean up work on three “hot spots” to remove 6,500 cubic yards of soil will begin next week.
Wynn consultant Chris Gordon, with Mayor Carlo DeMaria in the background, explains the clean up process in depth during a meeting at the Connolly Center last Tuesday, Oct. 13.