Mary Dennison Park, located on Beaver Street in South Framingham, Massachusetts is comprised of approximately 15 acres of predominantly open grassy space containing three ball fields, a soccer field, a volley ball court area, basketball courts, and two small playground areas. The park is surrounded by residential homes and commercial properties. Beaver Dam Brook runs in a northerly direction along its eastern edge. The open space park is a scarce asset for an area of Framingham that has experienced a disproportionate share of environmental burdens resulting from a long history of industrialization since the 1800’s.
The park was constructed in various stages beginning in 1960 on land acquired from Dennison Manufacturing Company (now Avery Dennison Corporation) that had been utilized as a burn dump from at least the mid-1920’s through approximately 1947. Historical records also show that Dennison allowed the Town of Framingham to dump municipal wastes at the property. Although the re-use of a closed dump for public recreation is not an uncommon practice, contaminants present in the waste materials can pose a health risk to those using the park if the buried waste is not covered in a manner that prevents park users from coming into contact with the contaminated materials.
In February 2014, during planning efforts associated with potential park upgrades, the Town of Framingham notified MassDEP of the presence of metals, such as lead, in park soils. This triggered State requirements to conduct additional testing to determine the extent of contamination and whether the contamination was present in surficial soils that park users might come into contact with.
Comprehensive sampling of park soils conducted by the Town of Framingham and Avery Dennison Corporation showed that lead and polyaromatic hydrocarbons are the predominant contaminants of concern at the playground. The contamination was generally identified below the soil cover amid the buried waste materials. However, lead was detected within surface soils at concentrations determined to pose a short term risk to children using the park at two locations: the Eastern Playground along Beaver Street and an area located adjacent to the brook within the soccer playing field. The lead levels caused MassDEP to require Immediate Response Actions to ensure that park users did not come into contact with the topsoil in these two areas.
Immediate Response Actions – Eastern Playground and Soccer Field
The Town of Framingham and Avery Dennison Corporation took the immediate required measures to restrict access to the Eastern Playground and the portion of the soccer playing field where elevated levels of lead were identified by installing chain link fencing and posting warning signs in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
On October 13, 2015, soil treatment and removal of the lead-contaminated topsoil within the Eastern Playground and soccer field were initiated. Upon removal of the soil, both areas will be temporarily restored with one to two feet of clean soil and/or wood chips so that use of these areas of the park can be resumed by the community while a longer term overall cleanup plan (which may include capping and/or removal of soil) is developed.
In addition to the Immediate Response Actions being conducted to address elevated levels of lead at two locations in the park, an Initial Site Investigation Report was completed on February 25, 2015. MassDEP is working with the Town of Framingham and Avery Dennison Corporation to complete the rest of the testing that is needed at the park before the cleanup plan can be prepared. Progress on completing these next steps will be posted on MassDEP’s website for South Framingham as they occur.
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