Fisherville Mill Site Removal Action III

Grafton, MA - Region I

Site Contact:

Janis Tsang

62 Main Street (Rt. 122A)
Grafton, MA 12354

Latitude: 42.1778000
Longitude: -71.6903000

The Fisherville Site is located at 60 Main Street (Route 122A) in Grafton, Massachusetts. The approximately 16.2-acre site is bounded to the North by Fisherville Pond, to the East by the Blackstone River, to the South by Route 122A, and to the West by private residences. The South Grafton Water District (SGWD) utilizes two overburden water supply wells, approximately 1000 feet to the south of the Site, on the west side of the Blackstone River (designated as an American Heritage River) to supply domestic water for area residences. The area surrounding the Site is a mix of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

The Site was used from 1882 until 1986 by different industries including textile (cotton spinning and weaving) manufacturing; manufacturing of steel racks, machine parts, stamps and lawn furniture and also for warehouse storage.

The Site is contaminated with petroleum, chlorinated volatile organic compounds, asbestos, and heavy metals and had been undergoing a state-lead cleanup. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) had installed a groundwater treatment system at the Site to remediate the petroleum and trichloroethene (TCE) contaminated groundwater.

In August 1999, there was a major multiple-alarm fire at the Fisherville Mill building which destroyed the entire complex including MA DEP=s treatment system. EPA conduct an approximately $554,000 emergency response action to address all off-site properties that had been impacted by the asbestos-containing fire debris.

From June 12, 2000 to November 22, 2000, EPA, MA DEP and Central Massachusetts Development Economic Authority (CMEDA) jointly performed a second removal action at the Site to address the surface contamination resulting from the destruction by fire of the facility. EPA contractors loaded, and MA DEP/CMEDA contractors transported and disposed of, approximately 3,400 tons of asbestos-containing material (ACM) to offsite disposal facilities. An estimated 300 tons of asbestos debris removed from the former boiler room area were transported to an offsite disposal facility funded by MA DEP. Approximately 3,226 tons of ash and building debris, 111 gallons of PCB-contaminated oil, three PCB-contaminated transformer carcasses, and four non-PCB transformers were transported off site for disposal funded by EPA. MA DEP funded offsite disposal of 94 gallons of mineral oil.

On January 22, 2001, South Grafton Water District (SGWD) notified MA DEP that samples collected from SGWD Well #3 and MW-32 (center of peninsula) in November 2000 detected TCE at concentrations of 0.7 and 1.5 ug/l (part-per-billion (ppb)) respectively. TCE was not detected in Well #3 during previous or subsequent monthly sampling. SGWD uses Well #3 on an as-needed basis during the dry summer and fall months. SGWD operated Well #3 from September 28 to November 14, 2000. Post November 2000 sampling results showed TCE concentration in MW-32 decreased gradually. These data suggested that under pumping conditions, the chlorinated VOC plume may have been shifted to the southwest toward well #3. MA DEP did not have sufficient data to fully define the chlorinated VOC source area, the migration pathway between the site and Well #3, the need for a barrier between the site and the SGWD wells and/or install a temporary treatment system to treat the source area and the plume.

On March 1, 2001, MA DEP, SGWD and CMEDA met and agreed that additional wells were needed in order to evaluate the situation. Due to the fact that there were no resources available to fund the additional well installation and groundwater assessment in a timely fashion, on April 18, 2001, MA DEP submitted a written request to EPA to assist with the installation of new wells, the groundwater assessment, and implementation of a time-critical removal action, if warranted.

From May 2001 to December 2001, EPA conducted the following groundwater investigations:

•EPA installed a number of transducer data loggers in miscellaneous well locations which automatically measure water/pressure and groundwater temperature at set time intervals for a period of several months to establish background water level data.

•EPA installed a total of 13 monitoring wells: 5 by the South Grafton Water District Pump Station #3; 4 on the peninsula south of Route 122A; and 4 in the former mill building site. Split spoon samples at various depth were collected from 6 wells for VOC screening analysis. All well locations were located using Global Positioning System (GPS), surveyed and documented.

•In order to determine the hydrologic environments that could induce the migration of the groundwater VOC contaminant plume from the former mill site toward SGWD Well #3 located downgradient from the site, the drawdown effect of increased pumping at SGWD #3 was investigated. Drawdown pumping conditions were evaluated by operating the SGWD Well #3 under two different usage rates: (i) pumping for 4 hours per day for 5 days; and (ii) 8 hours per day for 5 days. The 4-hour and 8-hour pumping tests were conducted in a period of low rainfall to simulate late summer/early fall pumping conditions when SGWD Well #3 would most likely be utilized. During the 4- and 8- hour pumping tests, SGWD Well #3 was pumped at approximately 450 gallons per minute (gpm). Manual water level measurements were collected from selected monitoring well locations during the pump tests to monitor the changes in water levels.

•Thirty-five (35) monitoring wells were sampled and analyzed for VOCs, nitrate/nitrite, sulfate, and dissolved iron and manganese.

The results of the hydrogeologic investigations showed the following:

• The analytical results confirm 1997 studies conducted by Handex that suggested a concentrated VOC source may be present just above the bedrock surface [possible dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL)] at the western end of the former mill building. The former loading dock area and a drywell located just north of the northwest corner of the former mill foundation are believed to be the predominate sources of the VOC groundwater plume migrating south toward the peninsula. The TCE detected in the shallow soil samples (0 to 2 ft and 2 to 4 ft) from a boring beneath the concrete foundation floor (estimated 2 - 4 inches thick) is assumed to be from the same source area.

•The results of the August 2001 groundwater sampling events indicated the presence of 12 VOCs:

1,1,1-trichlorethane (TCA),methylene chloride,1,1-DCE, PCE,
1,1-dichloroethane (DCA), trans 1,2-DCE,
acetone, TCE,
chloroform, vinyl chloride,
methyl tert butyl ether (MTBE), and cis 1,2-DCE.

The analytical results of the comprehensive monitoring well sampling support previous Handex investigations at the site that indicated the VOC plume originates near the western end of the former mill building and moves south-southeast where it discharges to the Blackstone River along the eastern edge of the peninsula. Although it appears that the main body of the plume discharges to the Blackstone River, prolonged pumping of SGWD Well #3 under dry conditions can alter the plume migration pattern such that low concentrations of VOCs can be pulled westward, towards the Blackstone Canal and SGWD Well #3.

On October 19, 2001, representatives from State Senator Glodis' Office, MA DEP, CMEDA, SGWD, EPA and WESTON held a meeting at MADEP Central Regional Office to discuss the hydrogeologic data collected to date and three possible contaminant pathways from the former mill site toward the SGWD #3 Well. The three possible contaminant pathways discussed were: (i) contaminants transport from southeast to northwest; (ii) transport through fractured bedrock; and, (iii) transport above screened intervals in sentinel wells adjacent to SGWD Well #3.

Pathway iii is likely the contaminant pathway due to the drawdown from pumping SGWD Well #3 resulting in a reversal in the vertical gradient west of Blackstone Canal toward SG-7D and SGWD Well #3. It appears that under prolonged pumping/usage of SGWD Well #3, a reversal of vertical hydraulic gradients is likely in the vicinity of the Blackstone Canal. Such a reversal of gradient would allow impacted surface water in the canal and shallow groundwater to move towards SGWD Well #3. In addition, the lowering of groundwater levels beneath the canal could allow groundwater from the southern end of the peninsula to move past the canal and ultimately into SGWD Well #3.

On December 7, 2001, MA DEP, CMEDA, SGWD, Town of Grafton, WESTON and EPA held a second meeting at MADEP Central Regional Office to review the results from the MADEP October 2001 sampling and discuss methods, approaches and/or treatment technologies for treating source area or contaminant plumes or both. Sources of funding and technical expertise were discussed. Analytical results from MA DEP indicated a detection of 1.7 ppb of TCE in SG-6, located on the west side of the canal. All parties agreed that given existing conditions and current utilization of Well #3 by SGWD, that a treatability study for the application/injection of an oxidation agent (sodium permanganate) in the source area was critical for the site. Subsequently, the OSC decided to perform the bench scale chemical oxidation test in light of CMEDA's funding uncertainty and the urgency of the situation; especially in the upcoming dry summer months.

Based on all of the above, the OSC determined that a removal action is warranted to eliminate the drinking water threat posed by the VOC contamination source areas on the Site. On May 6, 2002, an Action Memorandum was approved by the Deputy Office Director of the EPA Office of Site Remediation and Restoration authorizing a Removal Action III with the project ceiling of $1,980,000.

For additional information, visit the Pollution Report (POLREPS) section.