The successful remediation of the General Services Administration (GSA) Watertown Formerly Used Defense Site, marks the completion of the last remaining site associated with the Watertown Arsenal, Massachusetts cleanup. The site was restored from a hazardous waste site to a lush, green recreation space allowing the federal government to return the property back to the people of Massachusetts after 94 years. The New England District was the lead agency for the cleanup and worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and GSA to ensure the site was suitable for its future use as park land.
A ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion took place at the Commander’s Mansion in Watertown, Dec. 3. Col. Christopher Barron, New England District Commander, joined congressional, federal, state and local partners in celebrating the land turnover.
Anna Shpigel, Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) served as Master of Ceremonies. She welcomed the audience and led them in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Natalie Kaufman represented Congresswoman Katherine Clark during the event. “The Congresswoman is so pleased the project came to fruition – there was an incredible partnership to make it happen,” she said.
Col. Barron told the audience that the New England District became involved with the project in May 1991. “That was when the site was determined to be eligible for remedial investigation under the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) program,” he said. “We have been involved since that time.”
The Colonel thanked Anne Malewicz, Massachusetts DEP, calling her, “a great friend of the Corps.”
Col. Barron concluded by thanking the entire team of partners for the success of the project. “You made the transfer of a 13-acre hazardous waste site into usable green space possible,” he said.
Other speakers included Gary Moran, Deputy Commissioner for Operations and Environmental Compliance at Massachusetts DEP, Kevin Whalen, Deputy Director for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Robert Zarnetske, GSA’s Regional Administrator.
Glenn Rotando, GSA’s Regional Commissioner for the Public Buildings Service New England Region, closed the ceremony. “In 1920, the U.S. Army acquired this site from the state of Massachusetts with the promise to return it to the state when it was no longer needed,” he said. “Now, 94 years later, the property is being returned. Job well done by everyone. Enjoy the parcel.”
Following the speeches, the partners gathered in the foyer for the official ribbon cutting. The New England District was responsible for completing remedial activities at the site, under the FUDS program. With the exception of one building that was demolished with GSA funding, the $3.68 million project is completely funded under FUDS.
The property was part of Watertown Arsenal and during World War II, the U.S. Army constructed five structures on the GSA property to store various materials and equipment. As part of the Manhattan Project, the site was used to stabilize depleted uranium to allow for it to be shipped for disposal offsite.
From 1991, a variety of investigations and removal actions were performed by the New England District. In May 2012, the Decision Document was signed, paving the way for the remediation of the site.
Charter Environmental of Boston, Massachusetts, and its subcontractor, Nobis Engineering of Concord, New Hampshire mobilized to the site in November 2012. Remedial action work on the site included demolishing all of the structures that were unoccupied and deteriorated, excavation and off-site disposal of 450 cubic yards of PCB contaminated soil above 50 parts per million, construction of a 2-acre soil cover, and 2-acre compensatory wetland. All work was completed in July.
As part of long term monitoring to ensure the remedy performs as designed, the New England District will perform inspections of the wetlands twice a year for five years and inspections of the soil cover annually.
The Commonwealth plans to use the site for passive recreation such as walking trails and bird watching.
New England District Team members who accompanied Col. Barron to the event were New England District Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Charles Gray, Gary Morin, Maryellen Iorio, Joel Bloom, James Morocco, and Sally Rigione.