EPA removes Massachusetts landfill from National Priorities List

The Shpack Landfill in Norton and Attleboro is no longer considered a hazard to the environment.

October 12, 2017
Waste Today Staff
Landfills Legislation and regulations Special and Hazardous Waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed the Shpack Landfill, a superfund site located in Attleboro and Norton, Massachusetts, from the National Priorities List (NPL), also known as Superfund. Deleting sites from the NPL may occur once all response actions are complete and all cleanup goals have been achieved. EPA added the site to the NPL in 1986.

EPA and the state of Massachusetts concluded that all appropriate Superfund-financed responses under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), have been implemented and that no further cleanup is needed for the site, except for wetland restoration monitoring. EPA and the state have determined that cleanup actions conducted at the site to date continue to be protective of public health and the environment.

EPA proposed this action and held a public comment period on the proposed deletion, which ended Aug. 7. The final deletion of the Shpack Landfill from the NPL became effective on Sept. 5.

The Shpack Landfill operated as a private landfill from 1946 to 1965. It received industrial and domestic wastes, with the major use of the landfill occurring between 1951 and 1965. A court order closed the landfill. In 1978, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was contacted by a citizen who detected elevated radiation levels at the site. The NRC investigated and confirmed the presence of radioactivity above natural background levels. The primary contaminants found were radium-226, uranium-238 and uranium-235.

It is not known exactly when these radioactive materials were deposited, but a NRC investigation determined that the former M&C Nuclear Inc., of Attleboro, Massachusetts, had used the landfill for the disposal of trash and other materials, including zirconium ashes, associated with nuclear fuel operations at the facility from 1957 to 1965. In 1980, the site was added to the Department of Energy’s Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) to address the legacy of the nation’s early atomic energy programs. Responsibility of FUSRAP was later transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Cleanup of the site was implemented in two parts, first with the USACE completing the FUSRAP remedial action to address the radiological contamination in 2011, followed by the CERCLA or Superfund remedial action to address nonradiological contamination. The Superfund cleanup was completed in 2013. The entire cleanup included:

  • excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 83,400 cubic yards of soil and sediment;
  • restoration or reclamation of impacted wetlands and backfilling open areas with clean fill to bring them up to grade, as necessary;
  • extension of a public water supply line to two residences adjacent to the site that were previously on private wells; and
  • implementation of institutional controls to restrict future use of the property and groundwater.

Following standard procedure for completed cleanup work under Superfund, EPA will continue to conduct reviews of the site every five years, starting in 2018, to ensure that human health and the environment remain protected. EPA may initiate further action to ensure continued protectiveness at a deleted site if new information becomes available that indicates it is appropriate. The first Statutory Five Year Review Report will be completed prior to June 12, 2018.

EPA Superfund