The Peabody City Council voted in December on a $9 million bond to acquire 137 acres of land currently owned by the soon-to-be closed Rousselot plant on Washington and Allens Lane.
Earmarked for open space, the parcel to be purchased is now the Green Meadows Golf Course. The city has leased the golf course land from Rousselot, and its predecessor, Eastman Gelatine Corporation, for the past 20 years. The land purchase includes the lime pits/lagoons where tannery and other industrial waste was dumped for decades. The lagoons, a former Superfund site, were buried when the golf course was built and have remained undisturbed. The city pledged to continue to keep the area of closed pits undisturbed.
The industrial site has been used for more than 150 years, starting with glue factories that became Eastman Gelatine Corporation and now Rousselot. The facility today is within an Environmental Justice area.
Health concerns prompted the state to conduct a study of the 22-acre lime pit parcel. In 1984, the Mass. Dept. of Public Health studied an excess number of deaths due to pancreatic cancer in a census tract near the polluted pits. The study found twelve deaths occurred from 1974 to 1982 while only four deaths were expected, based on statewide mortality rates for that disease, “The likelihood of this occuring by chance is extremely rare (9 out of 10,000),” the report reads https://ia802503.us.archive.org/11/items/investigationint00mass_0/investigationint00mass_0_djvu.txt
Seepage from the lagoons entered both Sidney’s Pond and a potential aquifer found in the Meadow Pond area . The lagoons are downstream from Spring Pond, which is part of the Peabody water system.
The waste generated from the gelatine process is called “tankage” which contains 90% water, as well as solid bone pieces (Eastman Gelatine Lime Lagoon Site History). Tankage has been dumped in the lagoons across Washington Street from the plant for over 50 years. As of March 1983, the company ceased dumping in the lagoons and began trucking the sludge to the South Essex Sewerage District (SESD) treatment facility in Salem.
The company is one of the city’s largest land owners with 14 parcels that cover 330 acres in Peabody. While it was owned by Eastman Gelatine, they company sold, leased or donated several parcels for municipal and civic projects:
- Leased land on Lynnfield Street to the Peabody-Lynnfield YMCA for $1 so it could build a gymnasium and office, in 2002 donated four acres worth $1 million
- Gave property next to the plant to the City which became the George Peabody Museum.
- Contributed several pieces of old tanning equipment
- Leased 40 acres around Sidney’s Pond to the city (Meadows Golf Course)
With 137 acres being purchased by the city, the company owns another 193 acres. Plans for those plots have not been announced. Mayor Ted Bettenocourt said the city hopes to continue to add open space to provide potential access to: Goldthwaite Brook, Flume Pond and nearby vernal pools, as well as the area behind Lynnfield Street to the YMCA.
Of interest to BCNS:
The Rousselot site includes a natural gas generator housed off Allen’s Lane. It includes 3 combustion boilers and 2 phosphate dryers that emit 42194.5 metric tons of fossil fuel based CO2 emissions.
In comparison, the oldest generator Unit 1 at the Waters River Power Station emits 6,746.3 metric tons annually of CO2. The second peaker at Waters River, Unit 2, emits 14114.4 metric tons of CO2 annually. That’s a total of 20860.7 metric tons of CO2 emitted each year.
Rousselot’s plant emits 21,000 metric tons of CO2 more than the Waters River substation – although, the third peaker at the plant is not yet operating.
Questions: Does the sale of the property grandfather-in the plant’s generator? Is it running now? When will it stop?