LOCATION OF INJURY

Ashland Massachusetts and Sudbury River

DATE OF INJURY

From 1917 to 1978 and on-going

DATE AND AMOUNT OF SETTLEMENT

1998 at $3 million

NRD SETTLEMENT FUNDS AVAILABLE

$3.9 million to be expended jointly by State and Federal Trustees for injuries to natural resources and $237,000 to be expended by the Commonwealth for injuries to groundwater

RESPONSIBLE PARTY

PQ Corporation, Nyacol Products, Inc., and various landowners

NATURAL RESOURCE TRUSTEES

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

RELEASE OF HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES

On-Site disposal of mercury contaminated sludge, solid and liquid wastes and discharge of partially treated wastes into a tributary of the Sudbury River

INJURED RESOURCES

Groundwater, soil, sediment, surface water, wetlands, Sudbury River, fish, amphibians, reptiles, other aquatic organisms, birds and mammals

RESTORATION STATUS

Restoration Planning is on-going

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump NPL Site (US EPA)

The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund Site (Site) is a 35-acre parcel of land located in an industrial area of Ashland south of the Sudbury River. From 1917 to 1978, companies that operated on-Site produced textile dyes and intermediates and generated large volumes of industrial wastes that contaminated soil and sediments, groundwater and surface water, wetlands and the Sudbury River. The principal contaminant of concern is mercury; other contaminants are chromium, arsenic, lead, and organic compounds such as dichlorobenzene and chlorobenzene. Since 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has addressed remediation through initial cleanup actions and four long-term remedial phases focusing on source control and cleanup of the soil, off-Site groundwater, wetlands and drainageways, and the Sudbury River.

Injured Natural Resources

Sudbury River in Wayland
Of particular concern to the State and Federal Trustees and the basis for much of the natural resource damages (NRD) claim is the Site's impact to the Sudbury River. Mercury contamination of open water habitats as well as surface soils and exposed sediments downstream from the Site likely resulted in direct and indirect injuries to fish, amphibians, reptiles, other aquatic organisms, birds and mammals. Due to elevated levels of mercury in fish tissue, since 1986 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has imposed a Freshwater Fish Consumption Advisory for the Sudbury River from Ashland to its confluence with the Assabet and Concord Rivers. EPA's 2007 Draft Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment also verifies that there are elevated levels of mercury in water and sediments downstream of the Site, as well as in some species of benthic invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals.

Nyanza NRD Case Settlement

In 1998, State and Federal natural resource Trustees, i.e. the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States Department of Commerce, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior, entered into a NRD settlement, recovering approximately $3 million for natural resources injured, destroyed, or lost by the release of hazardous substances from or at the Nyanza Site. Pursuant to the court-entered Consent Decrees, this NRD settlement was allocated as follows: $2.8 million to be expended jointly by the State and Federal Trustees and $230,769 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for injuries to groundwater.

Natural Resource Trustees

In 1998, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Secretary of the Interior, and the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere of NOAA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to act as natural resource Trustees for the Nyanza NRD settlement. Natural resource trustees are designated federal and state agencies that act on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries and identify and oversee projects to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources and related service losses. Decisions regarding the use of NRD recoveries for restoration activities are made jointly based on unanimous consent by the Trustees. The MOA outlines a framework for the cooperative development and implementation of a Restoration Plan to restore, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent natural resources affected by the release of hazardous substances from or at the Nyanza Superfund Site. In addition, EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection were signatories to the MOA to ensure coordination between Trustees and the remedial agencies.

Restoration Planning

Heron and water chestnuts along the Sudbury River
In conjunction with EPA formulating a remedy for the Sudbury River, the Trustees are initiating a process to identify, select and implement natural resource restoration projects for the River. The overarching goal of the Trustees is to use the NRD funds recovered from the Responsible Parties in order to restore the injured natural resources of the Sudbury River, including the adjacent wetlands and floodplains, and the species which are present or historically present, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, other aquatic organisms, birds and mammals. Additionally, Massachusetts seeks to restore injured groundwater resources. Preferred projects will restore, replace or enhance the values of the natural resources injured, or acquire the equivalent of similar resources or services injured.

The Trustees have identified the following priorities for restoration of injured natural resources:

  • aquatic biological resources and their supporting habitats and food sources
  • riparian and floodplain biological resources and their supporting habitats and food sources
  • groundwater
  • water-dependent recreational uses, e.g. recreational fishing
  • environmental education and stewardship

The Public's Role

While EEA, USFWS and NOAA will coordinate and cooperate in the development and implementation of a Restoration Plan, EEA has been designated as the lead Administrative Trustee and will manage the restoration planning process. The Restoration Plan will document and guide future restoration actions and insure that decisions on restoration projects are made after consideration of all reasonable alternatives and public comment. Trustees are meeting with citizens, community and environmental groups, local and regional officials, and state and federal agencies to explain the Restoration Planning process and identify restoration projects that address the natural resource injury and meet project selection criteria.

On June 11, 2008, the Nyanza NRD Natural Resource Trustees - comprising the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) invited the public to submit project ideas to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of natural resources injured by the release of hazardous substances from or at the Nyanza Site.

The deadline for submitting ideas is September 9, 2008. The Trustees encourage ongoing consultation among groups and with us as ideas are developed for submittal. All proposed restoration project ideas will be evaluated by the Trustees using project selection criteria. Over the next year, the Trustees will develop a Restoration Plan to determine how to restore the watershed's natural resources and identify a range of preferred alternatives. The Commonwealth has an additional goal of restoring groundwater resources.

Once the Restoration Plan has been finalized, preferred projects can be implemented. Please note that the Trustees will need to conduct an open and competitive process in order to expend public funds to implement the preferred projects. A Request for Responses (RFR) will be issued and recommended projects will be implemented as available funds allow. Also note that NRD funds are considered state monies and are available as matching funds for federal and other grants.

Nyanza NRD Trustee Contacts

MA Department of Environmental Protection
Karen Pelto
617.292.5785
Karen.Pelto@state.ma.us

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Eric Hutchins
978.281.9313
Eric.Hutchins@noaa.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Molly Sperduto
603.223.2541
Molly_Sperduto@fws.gov


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Natural Damages Assessment and Restoration.