EPA to Coordinate with City on Cleanup of Conway Field Contamination

EPA to conduct phase 1 removal of PCBs and other contaminants, investing $3 million in matching funds into site

SOMERVILLE, MA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City of Somerville have signed an Administrative Order of Consent in which the EPA has committed to coordinate with the City on remediation of Conway Field in accordance with federal and state environmental regulations.

Conway Field and the adjacent splash pad were closed in 2018 after soil testing conducted in preparation for the proposed renovation of the park revealed PCB and lead contaminants, some exceeding regulatory limits. Under the agreement, EPA will conduct the first phase of soil removal, addressing the areas with the highest contamination at an estimated cost of $3 million. Under the guidance of the City’s Licensed Site Professional (LSP) and via EPA-approved plans, the City will then complete remaining soil removals and remediation work at an estimated matching cost of $3 million.

The site is now managed under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) and is also regulated under EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The City is legally obligated to remediate the site. Conway Field will remain closed to the public during remediation. Conway Playground, which was also tested in 2018 and a portion of which was found safe to remain open, must also close during remediation.

“I want to thank the EPA for this significant assistance to help us remediate and restore this field, which is such an important asset for our city’s youth and all our athletes. Without this substantial contribution of funding, expertise, and remediation assistance – especially amid the current financial crisis – a timely return of this field to community use would be in jeopardy,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

Project Schedule:

Pending a City Council vote and any unforeseen circumstances, the City will begin preparing the site for remediation as early as this fall. Soil removal is expected to begin in the spring of 2021. It is estimated that remediation will be complete by late summer 2021 and reconstruction of the field will be finished by fall 2021. A new splash pad will also be installed and the playground will be refurbished. Due to the contaminants and remediation requirements, there are unfortunately a number of trees that must be removed. All will be replaced and some additional trees will be planted as well. The target date for completion of the entire project pending any unforeseen circumstances is late fall 2021.

The area will prepared as early as this fall with an access road for construction vehicles, security fencing, and dust control measures. In spring 2021, EPA contractors will then remove contaminated soil to a range of depths to remediate identified areas of contamination as dictated by federal guidelines. A contractor for the City will then remove the top 18 inches of soil across the entire site, again according to state and federal guidelines. The contractor will then cap the site by installing a geotextile barrier and new soil and then build a synthetic turf field on top. Plans for the remediation and capping with a synthetic turf field were previously approved by DEP and EPA. A City Council vote on requested construction funds is pending. All preparation and remediation activities will be coordinated and overseen by the City’s Licensed Site Professional.

Community updates and engagement

To date, the City has held four community meetings on the Conway site, the most recent on December 16, 2019. The Administrative Order of Consent triggers both the remediation work and additional deadlines. Neighborhood outreach and a public meeting to detail project plans will be conducted jointly with EPA according to EPA timelines this fall. The City will also hold additional community discussion on the field reconstruction and splash pad designs this fall.

Visit the Conway Project Page on the City website at somervillema.gov/conwayfield for previous updates and FAQs as well as coming updates. Via the project page, you can also view the December 19, 2019, Conway Field presentation and sign up for Conway site email updates.

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