Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

The Select Board unanimously approved at its July 18 meeting an updated status report about the environmental investigation and remediation efforts affecting Arlington High School. The vote was 3-0 (Diane Mahon absent; Steve DeCourcey recused because of a client conflict).

Thomas G. Fiore, special counsel for environmental matters from the Boston law firm Frank Flaherty, wrote in a July 13 email that the release of gasoline at the DPW yard was first reported in 1992. Further contamination discovered at the site dates to the unsuccessful 1995 attempt by Stop & Shop to expand.

At the meeting, Fiore said that subsequent contamination relates to a former manufactured gas plant, a former saw-blade chroming operation and some of the Department of Public Works’ historical operations. All are centered at 51 Grove St., the DPW’s current location, but also extend onto AHS and some adjacent properties. 

Fiore’s memo also says that for more than 20 years, the town has been working with these industrial parties to address contamination associated with the DPW yard and those former operations. In 2001, the town and the industrial parties entered into a settlement agreement that spelled out the various parties’ roles in performing the investigation and remediation work.

“Since the 2001 settlement, the industrial parties have taken the lead in doing the major work that’s necessary to address this historical contamination,” Fiore wrote. 

The major work was completed in 2007 — relocating utilities into clean quarters, so they’re in an area that does not present an unacceptable risk to workers, and consolidating and capping the contaminated material under a barrier. The material that would pose an isolated risk is isolated, with no exposure pathway. Since then, the town and the industrial parties have been maintaining these barriers and monitoring groundwater, added Fiore. 

The settlement and cleanup led to reinstalling Peirce Field, the high school football and track facility, as well as baseball and soccer fields.

See the ACMi video of the July 18 Select Board meeting:

Formal report expected this fall

“We’ll come back to you, hopefully this fall, with a formal notice of what we’ve been doing since 2007. This notice is public, so anyone can find out what the property conditions are,” wrote Fiore. 

The final report will monitor what’s currently being done, and what the industrial parties need to do. Everything on AHS property will be considered in compliance, and all work pose no significant risk. 

“Massachusetts has strict guidelines for what’s safe and what’s not, which we consistently follow,” wrote Fiore.

Board member John Hurd said, “It’s good to see that we’re moving in the right direction, and all the work that’s being done.” 

July 20, 2022: Double-pole numbers drop; Select Board seeks further reductions


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Donate button, 300pxThis reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here. YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible. Donate here >>