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Proposed Pulaski St development on former Superfund site includes access to the Waters River

Down the street from the Waters River electric generating station in Ward 3 is the area of Pulaski Street known as the former Monnier Superfund site. It is currently poised for development – as are two nearby parcels: housing proposed at 58 Mills and at the location of the Roadhouse Pub.

A notice-of-intent by Williams & Sparages of Middleton has been filed with the Conservation Commission for 60 Pulaski Street to construct a commercial building with parking AND a public walking trail and canoe launch as part of planned riverfront area restoration.

The proposal is slated for the next Conservation Commission meeting on November 8. The commission is waiting for the Department of Public Services to conduct a peer review of the project.

A structure could be built within the 200-foot buffer along the Waters River. – the sole remaining undeveloped waterfront access on Peabody’s Waters River.

The former, toxic superfund site can accommodate a 50,000 square foot industrial type building or indoor/outdoor sports facility. The property is restricted from some types of activity and use due to its prior polluted status and spots of degradation.

The 6.7 acre site is zoned Light Industrial (IL) and is deed restricted with an Activity and Use Limitation and an Order of Conditions due to its contaminated history.

A full Certificate of Compliance was granted by the Peabody Conservation Commission in July 2022. The completed work was the treatment of selected areas of chromium-impacted groundwater via chemical fixation and installing six 25 -feet deep monitoring wells.

The area was developed by A.C. Lawrence as the Black Diamond patent leather factory. It was known as the Waters River Plant. A. C. Lawrence was founded in 1894 and opened their Waters River plant in 1906. In 1912, the Peabody Tallow Company was located at that location and manufactured tanning extracts and tallow.

Beginning in 1940, the property was owned by Leon E. Monnier until 1944. The business was then acquired by Thomas W. Thompson and became a regional producer and distributor of tanning chemicals and extracts. “The product line was expanded significantly to include a broad line of heavy chemicals. In 1979, the decision was taken to expand the geographical area served by the company and, in 1980, the name was changed to Tannin Corporation.”

The corporation began renting the property in 1980 and moved next door to 58 Pulaski Street in 1989. Tannin left the site in Sept. 1989. The Monnier site was unoccupied for almost ten years when it was completely destroyed by fire.

The water that was used to extinguish the blaze filled the basement and it eventually overflowed the basement and exited through windows at the ground level on the west side of the building.

“The water from the fire-fighting activities became contaminated with chromium as a result of high level chromium liquids that were remaining in the basement vats at the time of the fire. The chromium contaminated water from the fire-fighting activities impacted site soils along the western property boundary.

The MA DEP took emergency response actions to prevent further impact to the Waters River. Approximately 40,000 gallons of water was removed from the basement into fractionation tanks. In 1995, the US EPA was conducting a site inspection of the adjacent property at 50 Pulaski St. and reportedly observed blue tanned hides both inside and outside of the building on the subject property. It was later determined that approximately 40 tons of chromium contaminated related scraps were stored outside the building, and an additional 1900 cubic feet of scraps were present inside the building. Approximately 200 tons of scrap hides were later removed from the site by Val Chiaradonna Trucking of Peabody, Mass.

Eight drums and five to ten pails were observed in the southwest corner of the building, showing evidence of releases. These drums were overpacked, absorbent was applied to the ground and was collected for removal by an EPA contractor. The EPA collected soil samples and found no chromium contamination in the surface soil. Concentrations of chromium in the hides themselves were reported as high as 38,900 ppm. Two liquid vats in the basement had total chromium concentrations ranging as high as 2,000 ppm. Pipe insulation was found to contain 40 percent friable asbestos. In Feb. 1997, approximately 1,000 gallons of high concentration chromium liquid were pumped from the vats in the basement and were shipped off-site and the removal and the stabilization of asbestos inside the building was completed. Also in February 1997, the removal of the majority of the scrap hides was completed. Additional pumping of an unknown quantity was performed by Tannin in 1998.

In more recent times (2011,) the 60 Pulaski Street parcel was in the news when neighbors rallied (successfully!) against the city’s school bus parking lot at that address. They claimed fumes from the buses caused health problems in the neighborhood.


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