In April 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) requested that EPA evaluate the Medford Housing Authority (MHA) Site, specifically the MHA Willis Avenue Apartments, to determine if conditions warrant a removal action. The Willis Avenue Apartment complex is one of a number of developments run by the MHA. Sampling and analysis conducted by a contractor for the MHA identified concentrations of lead in surface soil throughout the property that may present a significant health risk to a sensitive population (approximately 30% of the population of the complex is 12 years of age or younger). The lead is believed to be related to historic placement of fill material and/or dumping at the Site.
During the summer of 2014, EPA conducted a preliminary assessment / site investigation (PA/SI). Sampling and analysis conducted during the PA/SI indicated that soil from 0-1’ below grade (bg) contains lead above 350 ppm, the site-specific level of concern, in five of the seven designated playground areas within the housing complex, the public raised garden bed area, and one private garden. This removal action will be limited to removing the top foot of contaminated soil and replacing it with clean fill in the playgrounds as well as the identified gardens. Due to the presence of several large trees and as an alternative to excavation, two of the play areas were elevated in a manner similar to the raised garden beds.
Site mobilization began during the first week of October 2015 as personnel and equipment arrived at the site. There is limited access throughout the housing authority, so the excavation and transfer of both contaminated soil out of the target locations to the soil stockpile along with the backfilling of clean fill has proceeded slowly and cautiously.
EPA demobilized from the site in January 2016 for the remainder of the winter after arranging for transportation and disposal of approximately 1,750 tons of lead contaminated soil. EPA and its contractor remobilized on April 4, 2016. Activities completed during the following month included additional backfilling with loam and final grading, installation of playground equipment, planting a number of trees as replacements for trees removed during the cleanup, and repairing any damage caused during the removal such as broken and cracked asphalt/cement. Hydroseeding and subsequent watering of the loamed areas took place in early May. Unfortunately, by early June, the grass was spotty in most areas and nothing was growing on the ballfield. After some discussion, The landscaping subcontractor returned in mid-June to re-hydroseed and begin a new watering maintenance program.