, Salem, MA

Danversport Explosion

November 20, 2007

Environmental cleanup could take years

DANVERS — The contamination left in the ground by last November's chemical plant explosion is migrating away from nearby homes, according to John Fitzgerald of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Solvents used by ink manufacturer CAI Inc. and paint maker Arnel Co. seeped into the groundwater and are slowly moving on a south and southeasterly path in the direction of the nearby marina and river, Fitzgerald said.

It's good news that the groundwater is not moving toward the neighborhood.

"That was our primary concern," Fitzgerald said.

Substances that survived the blast -- petroleum, xylenes, acetone, and toluene, for example -- have been discovered in the groundwater. But, "it's not as bad as we feared it could be," Fitzgerald said.

CAI and Arnel took over responsibility for cleaning up the Water Street site when the federal Environmental Protection Agency finished its work there in February. In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the EPA removed the following materials:

  • 650 empty, liquid- and solid-filled drums
  • 340 cubic yards of "hazardous sludge-like material"
  • More than 18,000 gallons of liquid, including contaminated wastewater from firefighting efforts
  • 400 tons of scrap steel
  • 7,500 gallons of flammable liquid recovered from underground storage tanks
The two companies, under the supervision of the state Department of Environmental Protection, are responsible for removing any remaining debris and ensuring that the groundwater and soil are clean. They've hired GZA Geoenvironmental Inc. to coordinate the cleanup.

Neither company could be reached for comment.

Holes have been "punched" into the ground in various locations to collect groundwater readings. Monitoring devices were placed in a sewer pipe leading from the plant to the neighborhood to detect any toxic gas heading the neighborhood's way. No gas has been detected.

The effect on the river water is still to be determined, Fitzgerald said. But groundwater moves slowly, less than a foot a day, and Fitzgerald doubted the contaminants would make it into the river in quantities large enough to imperil fish or create issues for boaters.

According to state regulations, the companies have up to six years to finish the cleanup. Fitzgerald couldn't say when the job might be done in Danversport.

"Typically," he said, "a site of this nature takes years to assess and clean up."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

Local News
  • 140765_SN_DLE_FESSENDEN4 Special Spaces transforms two downstairs rooms into playroom for Riley Fessenden

    BEVERLY -- What happens when the perfect kid-friendly playroom appears in your house overnight? Beverly's Fessenden kids were mostly speechless when they returned from seeing "The Little Mermaid" on Saturday and got their first look at the playroom t

    July 28, 2014 10 Photos

  • Beverly Hospital courier loses patients’ lab forms

    BEVERLY -- A courier for Beverly Hospital last month lost lab request forms for 54 patients that included names, health insurance identification numbers and, in some cases, Social Security numbers. The courier misplaced the forms, which were in a zip

    July 28, 2014

  • Big plans for three parks in the Point neighborhood SALEM -- One will be overhauled, another created from scratch, and a third will get a spiffed-up community garden. It's a good time to be a park in the Point neighborhood. The densely packed area just south of the city's downtown is on the verge of i

    July 28, 2014

  • Peabody could see school choice profit next year PEABODY -- After three years, the city's schools are projected not only to break even on school choice, but actually make a $30,000 profit. School officials expect to lose just under $300,000 in state aid next year for students who opt to attend scho

    July 28, 2014

  • 140723_SN_DLE_SALVARMY2 Dennis and Susan Knight take over Salem Salvation Army operation

    SALEM -- It was Christmas Eve in Sanford, Maine, but 8-year-old Dennis Knight and his three sisters had good reason to be short on holiday spirit: Their mom and dad had warned them there would be no Christmas that year. The family couldn't afford it.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos