LOCATION OF INJURYPalmer, MA and Quabog River
DATE OF INJURYFrom 1970's through completion of site remediation
NATURAL RESOURCE TRUSTEESUnited States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)  with MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) as advisory only
INJURED RESOURCESSurface water, wetlands, migratory birds, soil, groundwater
RESTORATION STATUSDraft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) completed. Final RP/EA expected to be released in 2008

PSC Resources NRD Case Settlement

In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as Trustee settled NRD claims with the Potentially Responsible Parties and recovered $157,256.00 for site restoration, site assessment, and future oversight expenses, which was to be expended jointly with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for wetland creation or enhancement activities and performance monitoring of the sites to assure success. The NRD covers claims for past, interim, and residual damages for injury to the wetland migratory bird habitat. This settlement has grown to $232,643.00 as of 2007 due to the account accruing interest from 1995 to the present.

Natural Resource Trustees

Natural resource Trustees include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).

Site History

The PSC Resources Superfund Site is located in the town of Palmer, approximately 15 miles east of Springfield, Massachusetts.  The Site is three acres in size and is located in the 100-year floodplain of the Quaboag River.  PSC Resources  operated in the 1970s as a waste oil refinery and solvent recovery plant. The facility reclaimed drained oils and solvents from Massachusetts collection points, treated them with heat, and sold them as lube oil base stock, road spray, and heavy fuel mixes.  Millions of gallons of waste were left behind in tanks and lagoons when the current owner abandoned the plant in 1978.  Improper containment of solvents and oils, spills, and poor maintenance activities resulted in the contamination of soil, groundwater, surface water and adjacent wetlands.

The specific contaminants of concern at the Site included volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), polychlorinated biphyenls (PCBs), lead and zinc.  Ground water was contaminated with VOCs and SVOCs.  Soils were contaminated with elevated levels of SVOCs, VOCs, metals, and PCBs (in a limited area adjacent to a former tank storage area).  Wetland sediments were contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lead and zinc.  Quaboag River water and sediments contained relatively low levels of SVOCs, PCBs, and metals.  Quaboag River fish (forage species) did not contain notable levels of contaminants.

In September 1983, the PSC Site was assigned a final listing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List (NPL).  The removal of hazardous wastes, installation of a fence, decontamination and demolition of site structures and building, and treatment of contaminated soils has reduced the potential of exposure to hazardous substance at the PSC Resources Site.  Stabilization and capping of on-Site contaminated soils and sediments was completed in November 1997. Wetland restoration activities were also completed in 1997. Maintenance of the cap, monitoring of groundwater and surface water and the restored wetlands began in 1998. Cleanup levels for groundwater have been met for all but two contaminants. An inspection of the restored wetlands was conducted in 2004 and 2005. The results of the inspections indicate that on-Site wetland restoration performance standards have been met at the restored wetland areas.

Injured Natural Resources

Of particular concern to State and Federal natural resource Trustees and the basis for the natural resource damages claim was the effects of PAHs, lead, and zinc on migratory birds that use wetlands.  A major release of hazardous materials to the wetlands associated with the Site apparently occurred in 1978 during a 4,000-gallon spill from the Site's containment lagoon.  EPA identified 0.7 acres of wetland that required remediation (excavation and restoration).  However, another 0.4 acre of adjacent wetlands that exceeded ecological effect levels was not identified for remediation by EPA.  The Trustees determined that remediation and restoration in the 0.7 acres of wetland would eliminate impairment but that the additional 0.4 acre would continue to experience impairment and/or injury.

Restoration Planning

The USFWS in consultation with EEA have prepared a Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA).  The Trustees primary goal is to implement a restoration project that compensates for impacts to wetland habitats caused by the release(s) at or from the site. The concept of restoration in this context includes returning a resource to its prior condition, rehabilitating or replacing a resource, and acquiring other resources to compensate for those which were lost.

The Trustees considered a reasonable number of possible restoration alternatives in developing the Draft RP/EA.  Potential projects were evaluated according to the following criteria: the restored habitat should be similar in type to the habitats impacted to provide similar ecological services; the project should be in the same watershed as the impacted wetlands; and the project should provide long-term or perpetual benefits to fish and wildlife resources.
Based on these characteristics and National Environmental Policy Act guidance, the Trustees identified several potential restoration projects. The Trustees' preferred projects are as follows:

  • Liesl Donaldson Property, Palmer, MA

    This 117 acre property is predominantly second growth forest comprised of hardwoods with white pine understory.  The property abuts the Ware River for approximately 1,800 linear feet.  The Opacum Land Trust responsible for holding a conservation easement for the entire site.  The easement will allow passive public recreation on the property.  The Palmer Conservation Commission supports the acquisition of this conservation easement.  

  • Riparian Restoration along Chicopee Brook, Monson, MA

    The Chicopee Brook Restoration Site contains several riparian wetland restoration and enhancement opportunities, including trash removal, invasive species control, and replanting of native vegetation.  Conducting these activities would enhance approximately one mile of riparian habitat, providing improved migratory bird wildlife habitat. Removal and control of several invasive species, including honeysuckle, multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, Japanese knotweed, and Asiatic bittersweet combined with planting of native vegetation would improve floral species diversity and benefit wildlife.  Additionally, walking trails are proposed for the Site, increasing opportunities for public recreation and wetland education.  Required permits would be obtained prior to construction to comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations. It has been proposed that the project be undertaken in phases to accommodate the limitations imposed by currently available funds.  Additional funds could potentially be raised through partnerships with other organizations.  The project has considerable public support and this may also increase the potential for raising additional funds.

The Public's Role

In March 2008, the Trustees published a notice of availability of the Draft RP/EA for public review and comment.  The Final RP/EA is expected to be released in late Summer 2008.

PSC Resources NRD Trustee Contacts

MA Department of Environmental Protection
Karen Pelto

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Andrew Major