John J Riley Site

Woburn, MA - Region I

Site Contact:

Frank Gardner
On-Scene Coordinator

228-240 Salem Street
Woburn, MA 01801

Latitude: 42.4903000
Longitude: -71.1342000

The Site is located in a mixed residential, commercial, and industrial area of Woburn and is the former location of the Riley Tannery, which operated at the Site from approximately 1915 until 1989. According to MassDEP files, the tannery used hexavalent chromium as a raw material for a “chrome tanning” process to produce shoe leather from animal hides.

The Site is bounded by Wildwood Avenue to the west, Salem Street and residences to the south, railroad tracks to the east, and other commercial properties to the north. The 15.8 acre site is highly developed and is characterized by level topography, except for a wooded, steeply sloped ravine/drainage swale in the north. This surface water pathway flows eastward toward the Wells G&H Superfund Site, the Aberjona River, and its associated wetlands within ¼ mile to the east.

As a result of the subdivision and redevelopment of the Site from 1994-1997 for commercial and industrial use, the Site currently consists of the following four active commercial and industrial properties: Charls Ice Cream, Organix, Inc., New England Industrial Truck, and W.A Kraft. The portion of the Site on which this chromium contamination is located is owned by Organix, LLC (Organix) and operated by Organix, Inc.

The site was referred to the Emergency Planning and Response Branch on January 13, 2005 by the Superfund remedial program, which is working on the Wells G&H Superfund Site, which abuts the Site to the east. This Site was identified as a potential candidate for a removal action based on the potential presence of chromium-contaminated surface soils. On August 11, 2005, EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) conducted a joint site investigation which included the collection of surface soils. These samples, which were analyzed at EPA’s New England Regional Laboratory, documented the presence of high levels (up to 86,000 mg/kg) of chromium contamination at the surface. The site investigation documented that: 1) the chromium-contaminated soils pose a direct contact threat to those who may enter the Site, 2) unauthorized individuals have accessed the contaminated area, and 3) the chromium may pose a threat of downstream migration. The site investigation was closed on March 15, 2006 with a recommendation that a time critical removal action be conducted.

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