By Tim Kane
WARE – A firm hired by Kanzaki Specialty Papers, Inc. has found prior remedial activities at the company’s disposal site pose “no significant risk” in an audit assessment required by the state.
Pioneer Environmental Inc. issued the post audit completion statement and revised risk assessment on behalf of Kanzaki to Thomas Keefe of the state Department of Environmenta l P r o t e c t i o n ’ s (DEP) Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup on May 26, 2009.
The 26-page document that the original disposal site was created by Kanzaki’s predecessor, Ludlow Specialty Papers, which operated the business from the 1920s through the late 1980s. This risk assessment relates to a hazardous materials release discovered in March 2006, which was allegedly caused by a wastewater lagoon that ceased operation in the early 1980s.
In letters to both Ware Selectmen and Board of Health
dated June 5, Pioneer Environmental, Inc. President Peter J. Levesque wrote that remediation efforts at Kanzaki’s disposal site have found a “permanent solution” with “no significant risk posed.”
Peter Sawosik, Kanzaki’s vice notice of non-compliance from Eva V. Tor, deputy director of the DEP’s western regional office, on Feb. 24, 2009.
Tor said her department has determined that response actions at the site by Kanzaki were not performed in compliance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan. That declaration forced the company to conduct the risk characterization.
Specifically, the DEP stated that Hexavalent Chromium was detected at a concentration of 100 milligrams per kilogram in a soil sample collected from the disposal site on March 31, 2006.
However, the company’s previous risk characterization did not describe the extent of Hexavalent Chromium contamination in soil and groundwater at the disposal site, which can cause cancer in high exposure amounts.
“The source of the ‘brightly-colored,’ metals-contaminated soil was attributed to the operation of the former wastewater lagoon,” said Tor. “ The assessment and evaluation of the composition and nature of the metals release did not include elements known to have been associated with the operation of the former wastewater lagoon, specifically antimony, tin, and zinc. The disposal site must be evaluated for potential antimony, tin, and zinc contamination.”
In its findings released this month, Pioneer Environmental stated that 23 samples collected through excavation and groundwater monitoring determined that using an EPA testing method for all Chromium found the highest concentration well below maximum percentages allowed under state and federal standards.
Laurel Drive residents, who directly abut the company’s property, have been concerned for years with alleged strange illnesses occurring on the street, along with excessive noise from truck idling and flooding episodes. After the Ware Board of Health and Planning Board intervened last fall, Kanzaki completed erecting an 8-foot tall wooden fence along much of the property abutting the neighborhood where 25 homes exist. One neighbor two months ago told this newspaper that noise has diminished greatly as a result of the fencing.
Still, Deborah Gratton, spokeswoman for the concerned neighborhood group, remains skeptical of the new audit report and awaits DEP’s response to it.
“It has been a frustrating cycle and ride,” Gratton said on Tuesday. “DEP issued an audit on Kanzaki for the contamination found when they excavated before building that infiltration that broke and flooded our homes.”
She further alleged that DEP auditors have stated that they could see colored soils in residents’ pictures, indicating a “new incident,” meaning a hazardous material spill consistent with contamination. She also claims truck idling continues to be a problem.
Neighbors remain weary of the new report, given some feel contaminants have leeched away from the former wastewater lagoon into their own groundwater tables.
Last year’s flooded basements, which were caused by a Kanzaki subcontractor, was documented by environmental engineer Thomas Hogan III, an area firm vice president who lives on the street. He asked the planning board in a Sept. 30, 2008 letter to hire an outside consultant to take subsurface groundwater and soil samples to identify the extent of contaminants that may have migrated from the plant into the surrounding neighborhood after the flood.
The group claims that elevated concentrations of the chemical Toluene have been found in one of several DEP monitoring wells placed on and around the property. Inhalation of toluene is known to be intoxicating, but in larger doses nausea-inducing – similar to health complaints alleged by several neighbors, including Gratton’s mother.
“This subsurface stormwater system failure, combined with the previously known presence of subsurface contamination in the vicinity of the failed system, has caused neighborhood residents to be especially concerned for the safety of our families,” Hogan wrote.
Grattton said the group is beginning to line up lawyers in Boston.