This former mill site on Lawrence Street in Norfolk Massachusetts was tested in 2018 and 2019 and found to have Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, a toxic and very persistent man-made chemical, banned in 1979 in the US), Lead, Cadmium, Zinc, Chromium and other hazardous materials in the environment.
The mill site is a wellhead protection area (Zone II) for the Franklin Public Water Supply. This DEP approved designation is important for protecting the recharge area around a public water supply groundwater source. Franklin's 9000 water users obtain drinking water from Franklin's 12 wells, 2 of which are on Miller Street on the nearby Norfolk/Franklin line. Groundwater from the old mill site also flows to the Mill River, which winds its way down to City Mills Pond in Norfolk and eventually merges with the Charles River. All the land is part of the Charles River Watershed. Hazardous material, including abandoned equipment and textile debris from the mill, was buried over 20 years ago (1998) in an Activity and Use Limitation (AUL) 12-acre area near Bush Pond. It had soil that was compared to a lower standard and covered with a fabric cap and 3 feet of sand and then said to meet the higher standard required in a wellhead protection district. This practice may pose a risk to the nearby drinking water supplies.
There are several lagoons and trenches that were part of the factory operations which feed into the nearby waterways. All these locations need to be tested for contaminants as well. (See image below).
The extent of contamination has not yet been defined. Buckley & Mann Inc, the owners of the property, are the Responsible Party at this time for future investigations, though all environmental testing ceased on April 1, 2019 with resignation letter of the LSP-of-record.
A Developer, with the help of Environmental Consultants, performed environmental testing in 2019 and the DEP requested these results be made public by May 10, 2019. Results were posted to DEP website on 5/14/19 here: eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/EEA/fileviewer/Rtn.aspx?rtn=2-3000173 The 5/14/19 results from Developer’s testing list a spike of 310ppm of PCBs at the banks of the Mill River (Reporting Limit 1 ppm).
The Property owners, the Responsible Party, still the Mann family under Buckley and Mann, must follow the DEP guidelines and possibly the EPA rules, if the conditions at the site warrant higher level of scrutiny. If the Property owners are granted Financial Inability to Pay Status, the site will sit untouched for a period of a year, at which time the owners can apply to extend this status.
Next Steps - Want More Info? The Buckley and Mann property is part of six different parcels in the 176-home Abbyville proposal that is before the Norfolk Zoning Board of Appeals. Hearings started in June of 2017. The next ZBA Public Hearing is scheduled for Wednesday September 4, 2019. A June 28, 2019 letter from MassHousing can be found here on the question of does the Applicant need Site Control to move forward with the 40B process: norfolk.ma.us/assets/files/boards-and-committees/zoning-board-of-appeals/40b-projects/preserve-at-abbyville-commons/190628-mass-housing-letter-to-dch.pdf. The letter includes the June 19, 2019 "Site Access Agreement between the Applicant and Property Owner. Applicant would have to resolve all environmental conditions if the development was to move forward. The Board of Health is also aware of the PCBs.
Thanks for reading these main points concerning contaminated property in Norfolk and future housing development. If you want more information, there is plenty available on this site or you can attend ZBA or Board of Health meetings. You can also go to the DEP website which has this parcel listed under Release Tracking Number 2-3000173 on this link: eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/EEA/fileviewer/Rtn.aspx?rtn=2-3000173