Buried toxins found in more Dartmouth locations as more soil tests reveal PCBs

Buried toxins found in more Dartmouth locations as more soil tests reveal PCBs

Source: https://www.southcoasttoday.com, June 25, 2019
By: Jennette Barnes

Contaminated soil has been uncovered at new locations in the Bliss Corner neighborhood as part of a state investigation into industrial waste found in the area last year.

Tests show four new places on McCabe, East Wordell and Donald Streets where toxic waste exceeds residential standards, plus additional locations where contaminants were detected but fall within the standards.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection began investigating industrial waste and other hazards in the soil last year after drums of waste were discovered buried on a house lot at 85 McCabe Street. Subsequent testing revealed polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at more than 900 times the state standard at 20 Kraseman St., where a house was under construction.

The discovery sparked widespread concern about the health risks, and DEP hired a contractor to conduct soil borings at 18 locations on town-owned rights-of-way in the neighborhood.

The results show PCBs at more than eight times the residential standard at the south end of Donald Street, along with elevated levels of lead. High lead was also found on East Wordell Street and at a location on McCabe Street, east of Carlton Street.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are often associated with the dumping of ash, were found at two locations on McCabe Street — one east of Carlton Street and one east of Lincoln Street.

None of the levels came back high enough in the latest tests to qualify as an “imminent hazard” under state rules, meaning it would require immediate action, but some neighbors remain worried about their health and property.

Milton Street resident David Faria said he wants the state to test private properties, including his own on Kraseman and Milton Streets.

“We’re talking about people’s lives here,” he said.

DEP plans to test private lots starting in mid to late summer. Access agreements have been sent to immediate abutters of 20 Kraseman St. and 85 McCabe St., according to agency spokesman Edmund Coletta. Depending on the results, DEP will work its way outward from there, if necessary, he said.

Christopher Michaud, Dartmouth director of public health, said the town is satisfied with the way the state is handling the investigation.

But Faria said he wants to know more about the source or sources of the waste.

“I’m disappointed that we’re not finding out more about the culprits,” he said.

Deadlines recently passed for Dartmouth and New Bedford to submit historical information that DEP requested that could shed light on how the material ended up on residential streets. Both communities responded, and DEP is reviewing the information, Coletta said.

Michaud said the Dartmouth Health Department spent at least 540 hours going through records.

through every word,” he said.

With that volume of work, the town did not have time to analyze what the records could mean to the investigation.

“That’s for DEP to do,” he said.

The tests found fill at depths ranging from three to 24 inches below ground level. The fill contained coal ash, glass, brick and clinkers, which are stony materials from the burning of coal.

Groundwater testing is still to come. DEP plans to hold a public meeting in late summer to review test results and provide an update on the investigation.

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