2.8-acre Conway Park Site is owned by the City of Somerville (the City) and
used as a recreational complex. It consists of a large ball field, a children’s
playground, and a splash pad. The lots
that eventually became the park had been used for industrial purposes for more
than 100 years prior to the City claiming ownership in 1937 by virtue of a tax
the city acquired the property, the park and adjacent parcels have all been
redeveloped from their former industrial uses into public recreational
facilities. The park itself has gone through a number of renovations and
improvements over the years.
2017, the City hired a consultant to conduct an environmental assessment in
preparation for planned redesign work at the park. Due to the exceedances under
the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Contingency
Plan of reportable concentrations of a number of hazardous substances, (polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and lead), a
supplemental investigation was conducted in the spring of 2018.
on the results of these investigations, the City fenced-off the playground and
restricted access to the entire Site. In
the summer of 2018, additional environmental assessment work was conducted to
further delineate the extent of PCBs and lead throughout the Site. A risk
characterization concluded that a portion of the playground area was safe for
the general public to use and after consultation with the MassDEP and EPA, the
City re-opened that portion of the playground in the fall of 2018.
early 2019, a geophysical survey followed by test pitting was conducted on a
portion of the ballfield where the highest concentrations of PCBs were detected.
Obvious layers of fill were noted which were generally observed to be between 3
feet and 8 feet to 12 feet below ground. Debris included brick, fire brick,
rubber gaskets, scrap metal, cobblestone, glass, and a number of potential
April 2019, MassDEP requested EPA assistance with cleaning up Site soil,
notably where elevated PCB concentrations are present as a direct contact risk
and equal to or above 50 parts per million in subsurface soils. In subsequent discussions between EPA and the
City, Somerville expressed interest in working cooperatively with EPA. EPA and
the City agreed to address cleanup of the site under a carefully coordinated
mixed-work approach, with EPA expected to spend up to approximately $3 million
in cleanup work and the City performing the rest of the work (estimated to cost
at least $3 million) under EPA oversight. In addition, the City intends to
implement Park improvements and upgrades following clean-up activities.
An Administrative Order on Consent and an accompanying
Statement of Work, which effectively divides the cost and work tasks between
Somerville and EPA, was signed on July 20, 2020.