EPA proposes a new remedy for Savage Well

MILFORD – Most of the Superfund site news in recent years has been about the Fletcher Paint site, and it’s easy to forget there is another area of contaminated water five miles west.

The federal Environ­mental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Ser­vices have been clean­ing up the Savage Well Superfund site since the early 1990s after volatile organic compounds were discovered in the water in 1983.

Now the agencies are proposing a new remedy for part of the area, what is called Operable Unit 1, saying the treatment sys­tem that has been in op­eration for 16 years is not working.

Operable Unit 2, in the extended plume area, is successfully extracting ground water and treating it to remove contaminants, according to the EPA. The plume extends about 6,000 feet to the east from the intersection of Elm Street and Route 101A, covering about 235 acres.

But cleanup of OU1, also known as the OK Tool Source Area, where a slur­ry wall and a groundwater extraction and treatment system was installed in 1999, has not been effec­tive.

At a recent selectmen’s meeting, EPA project manager Richard Hull and DES engineer Robin Mongeon said the remedy is not doing a good job of taking out contaminates that migrate into the aqui­fer.

A new remedy has been proposed that involves more chemical treatment "in situ," meaning in place. They are also pro­posing the establishment of a "technical impracti­cality" zone, in the area of the highest groundwa­ter contamination, where drinking water standards will not be achieved.

Hull told selectmen cleanup could take hun­dreds of years and still not meet drinking water standards.

Private wells along North River Road, how­ever, have been tested and found clean, although there is low level bedrock contamination north of the river, Mongeon said in a phone interview. Water testing as far as Cortland Road and the state fish hatchery have come back clean.

Cost of the newly pro­posed remedy would be between $11 and $15 mil­lion, with the federal gov­ernment’s Superfund pay­ing 90 percent and New Hampshire paying 10 per­cent.

There are no respon­sible parties for OU1, as there are for OU2, where Hitchiner Manufactur­ing and Hendrix Wire & Cable are paying for much of the cleanup, operating a treatment plant east of the old police station that was installed in 2004.

The DES is doing the work under the oversight of the EPA, cleaning up contaminants left after industries poured sol­vents and other industri­al waste into the ground or stored them in inad­equate containers, said to be standard operating procedures at the time.

The Savage Well aqui­fer had once been one of the state’s most abundant sources of drinking water and from 1960 to 1983 pro­vided about 45 percent of Milford’s water, according to the EPA.

There will be a public hearing on the new plan Wednesday, Aug. 26 in the selectmen’s meeting room of Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. and public comments will be accepted until Wednes­day, Sept. 3.

Email hull.richard@ epa.gov, or fax 617-918- 0882 or write to Richard Hull, remedial project manager, EPA Region 1, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100, Boston, Mass. 02109- 3912.

Target dates for the final cleanup work for the oth­er Superfund site, known as Fletcher Paint, have come and gone over the past several years, and in March town officials said preliminary work might get done this year, and the responsible party, Gener­al Electric Company, put the project out to bid in the spring.