Walton & Lonsbury Site

Site Contact:
Daniel Burgo


Site Location:
78 North Avenue
Attleboro, MA 02703

The Walton & Lonsbury (W&L) Site (the Site), located at 78 North Avenue, Attleboro, Bristol County, Massachusetts, is owned by Walhard Realty Trust and consists of a 13,500 square-foot chromium plating facility, formerly operated by Walton & Lonsbury, Inc. on a 2.72-acre lot. It is identified as Map 89, Lots 2D, 4 and 5.

The Site is zoned for industrial use, and while in operation it was used as a specialty parts industrial plating facility, with the unique ability to chrome-plate very large and/or long objects (e.g., pistons for large hydraulic equipment, rollers for paper mills).

Electroplating operations have been conducted at the Site since 1940; W&L operated chromium plating operations at the Site until it ceased operations in 2007. Copper plating was also conducted at the facility until the building was remodeled in the late 1950s. Facility operations included parts degreasing using solvents, hard chrome plating, stripping with acids, aqueous rinsing, grinding, and polishing.

Chemical usage at the Site has included trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), chromic oxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, cyanide, paint thinner, aluminum oxide, sodium hydroxide, sodium bisulfate, sodium hydrosulfate, and lead sulfate. Wastes generated at the Site include hydrochloric acid, chromium hydroxide sludge, chromic acid wastewater, chromic acid contaminated solids, TCE, TCA, aluminum oxide dust, and cyanide plating bath solution.

From 1940 until 1970, wastewater and waste streams generated at the Site direct discharged via an underground pipe from the plating room into the wetlands located on the southern portion of the property. In 1970, W&L abandoned and plugged its underground pipe and installed a wastewater treatment facility on Site to treat its electroplating wastes (primarily chromium hydroxide sludge) which were then discharged to a surface impoundment and lagoon for dewatering. The effluent from the dewatering impoundment and lagoon was then discharged into the wetland area via a storm water trench located on the west side of the property.

The impoundment and lagoon were excavated using only a visual criteria, and were closed and capped in 1985-1986. Environmental sampling in 2001, with supporting samples taken by EPA in 2010 during the Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation (PA/SI), show that some contamination was left in place and continues to contribute to the sub-surface soil and groundwater impacts.

In the late 1980s, the wastewater treatment system was converted to a closed-loop for process water, while chromium hydroxide sludge was accumulated and shipped off-site for disposal (approximately 4,000 gallons of sludge was shipped off-Site every 90 days). Employee interviews have clarified, however, that the closed-loop system was constantly compromised. Each weekend, the facility would shut down, and on Monday morning, there was usually a large quantity of water in the system (in excess of the capacity of the holding bays in the wastewater treatment room), and this water would slowly discharge through a hole in the wall and into a rip-rap stone area on the west side of the facility. This water would either flow through the rock towards the wetlands, and/or be absorbed into the groundwater. This process water was sometimes contaminated, however, when acid would cause one of the heating coils to crack, allowing for chromic acid infiltration into the “clean” closed-loop system.

Lead is now the primary contaminate of concern. Lead was used for a variety of operational processes in the chrome-plating operations. A small lead smelter and exhaust hood are found in the mechanic’s shop in the south-west corner of the facility, and it was used to make a variety of plumbing pieces involved in the plating process. The lead bends, curves and pieces would eventually melt away in the 140⁰ F chromic acid tanks, and contribute to the waste stream from the plating process.