Chelmsford Select Board weigh PFAS remediation


CHELMSFORD — The Select Board on Monday discussed a PFAS Assessment and Remediation Update for 54 Richardson Road, the temporary home of the North Fire Station.

The site is known to contain high levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In June, a sampling event detected PFAS in the majority of site monitoring wells, of which 15 of 21 wells exceeded Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection standards.

Last November, Board members first discussed elevated PFAS levels, which have been linked to effects including low infant birth rates, immune system and hormonal effects and certain cancers, according to the Environmental Protection agency.

Paul McKinlay, of the firm Weston and Sampson, discussed the June sampling findings and how to proceed with remedial actions. PFAS soil impacts were detected in and around the 8-bay garage structure and in the dog park (well WS-MW-104.) Evaluation of other off-site potential PFAS sources are ongoing.

A geophysical survey was completed for the entire site with approximately 50 drums detected and removed, which McKinlay said was a big step forward.

Chair Virginia Crocker Timmins asked McKinlay if there was a timeline for remediation.

“What happens over the next few weeks? Where do we go from here until the Oct. 11 deadline?” Town Manager Paul Cohen asked. The Board will be meeting every Monday until Oct. 4.

Once the Board reviews the recommendation, it will make a decision and move forward.

A remedial plan is due to MassDEP Oct. 11 as an Immediate Response Action Modified Plan. If the plan isn’t approved by the Board on Sept. 27, the Board will push out to Oct. 4.

“We’re leaning toward remedial option No. 2 and with that we’ll give you a formal recommendation with costs and what that will look like in the next week or so,” McKinlay said. “We’ve done several (Immediate Response Action) plans previously,” he said, offering to share them with the board. The final report gets submitted to MassDEP electronically.

Remedial Option 2 would pump, treat, and re-inject; advantages include potential lower costs (evaluating short- and long-term projections) and permanent mass removal of PFAS. Granular Activated Carbon and Resin treatment options are currently available and future technologies can be adapted, according to McKinlay. Pump rates would be adjusted to create hydraulic control.

Disadvantages include installation of wells, trenches, piping, treatment shed; required operation and maintenance; and the need to operate for longer duration — meaning years.

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