Bay Street Tiverton Study Area

General Summary 11/28/05

Site History and Hazardous Releases

In August of 2002, residents in the neighborhood community off of Bay Street in the Town of Tiverton became suspicious of soil material being stockpiled along Bay Street as part of a sewer main installation, the Mount Hope Bay Sewer Interceptor Project for North Tiverton, Rhode Island. Complaints filed at DEM initiated an investigation by a member of the DEM hazardous materials response team at the corner of Judson and Bay Street and at the bottom Last Street in Tiverton. The DEM field investigator observed stockpiled soils at both locations that the sewer contractor had placed there. The stockpiled soil had a "blue" color associated with it, indicative of historic coal gasification waste material. Laboratory analyses of the soil material by the Department's contractor laboratory revealed the presence of cyanide and other hazardous substances in the stockpiled soils. The case file was forwarded to the DEM Office of Waste Management-Site Remediation Section and a Letter of Responsibility was issued to the Town of Tiverton and Starwood Tiverton, LLC on October 8, 2002 as the owner and operator of the property and sewer installation project respectfully.

In November 2002, EA Engineering on behalf of the Town of Tiverton and Starwood Tiverton, LLC conducted a subsurface investigation beneath the portions of the public roads/streets inclusive of Bay, Judson, Hooper, Hilton, Canonicus, Chase, Foote as far north as State Avenue. When the contaminated soil was first discovered during the Sewer Interceptor Project, it was assumed that the fill was restricted to just below the road/streets in the area. Subsequent results reported by EA Engineering, however, indicated that a more wide spread problem was present beneath some of the road/street areas of the neighborhood. The EA investigation also revealed the presence of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH), Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs), totals metals including Lead and Arsenic as well as total Cyanide.

On March 13, 2003, a public meeting was held at the Tiverton Town Hall at which approximately 125 residents expressed their concerns and provided information to the Department concerning historical activities in the Bay Street community. Documentation presented cited a former employee of Fall River Gas Co. dated February 10, 1987 states that "blue soil" was observed in the fill material (1-3 feet in depth) along State and Bay Street and that the disposal may have occurred over a ten-year period during the 1960's and early 1970's. The suspected source of the contaminated material is therefore the former Fall River Gas Company (now owned by the Southern Union Company/New England Gas Company). Additional information found in Individual Septic Design System records for a residential dwelling at the intersection of Hooper and Bay Street also identifies that there is approximately two (2) feet of fill in the area. This information supports the Department's belief that some of the contaminated soils were filled in this residential area prior to some of the homes being constructed.

On March 17, 2003, the Department issued a Letter of Responsibility to Southern Union Company and their local affiliate New England Gas Company (formerly Providence Gas Company, Fall River Gas Company and Valley Gas Company). On March 19, 2003, New England Gas Company responded to the Department's LOR and contracted VHB, Inc. to prepare a Site Investigation Work Plan for investigating 68 private properties thought to be abutting contamination discovered in the public road areas as part of the Town of Tiverton's investigation. VHB, on behalf of New England Gas, began their investigation in June 2003 and have increased the number of properties being investigated to 75 lots. The Town of Tiverton has also initiated a second round of field investigation, at the request of the Department, on the remaining public road/street areas, not previously tested, to attempt to determine the extent of soil contamination beneath the public roads/streets and right of ways.

Several members of the Bay Street neighborhood community have formed a group called ENACT -Environmental Neighborhood Action Committee of Tiverton- in order to coordinate an effort to gather and disseminate information. Both DEM and the Department of Health (DOH) officials have continued to interact with ENACT and other area residents to communicate the status of the ongoing investigation, discuss results to date, and other planned or actual construction projects which might present an exposure threat to the residents and children. Residents have expressed concerns regarding the possibility that airborne contaminants could be created from ongoing activities along with ingestion of soil particles. In addition, residents have raised other issues concerning property values, property taxes and re-sale potential in addition to when is the area going to get cleaned up.

Current Status and Health Issues

The levels of contamination discovered during the testing of Bay Street residences have been found to exceed both DEM's Residential, Industrial/Commercial Direct Exposure Regulatory Criteria, and on two specific lots, exceedances of the imminent hazard threshold for Arsenic set by the DOH Risk Assessment program and New England Gas Company's contractor, Environ. DOH has issued an advisory to residents to have children avoid digging on their property to avoid dermal contact and/or ingestion of potentially contaminated soil particles. DOH has also advised residents to increase the frequency of personal hygiene (hand washing etc.), and for residents who garden to plant vegetables in raised beds.

In August 2003, the Tiverton Town Council placed a temporary moratorium on building and excavation projects. This action by the Town Council was in response to a new home being constructed on a vacant lot in immediate neighborhood, as well as a water main replacement project by the North Tiverton Water District for Hooper Street.

The Town of Tiverton issued the findings of their additional Site Investigation for the public road/street areas in September 2003. A Site Investigation Report and risk assessment of 74 properties in the Bay Street Tiverton Study Area by VHB on behalf of New England Gas Company was delivered to DEM and the community for their review on October 31, 2003. Final DEM approval of the site investigation report is subject to public comment.

To date, DEM and DOH officials have attended at least five (5) public forums - two (2) were public meetings, and three (3) were meetings with smaller groups of residents to discuss specific results on private properties.

DEM has met with neighborhood groups on September 18th and October 23, 2003. In addition, the DEM Director and Staff met with public officials from the town along with leaders of the community on October 16th.

On October 23, 2003, DEM requested the New England Gas Company to plan a Phase II Site Investigation of the seventeen properties in the vicinity of State Ave, A Connell Street and Chase Avenue that had not yet been tested.

On October 24, 2003, DEM recommended the Town of Tiverton to collect and test soil beneath Lepes Road to characterize the soil in that area.

On January 27, 2004, DEM provided comments to New England Gas Company's Site Investigation Report. DEM also forwarded comments from HEALTH, USEPA Region I, EA Engineering, Paul Revere III, Woodward & Curran and ENACT. DEM requested New England Gas Company to conduct additional testing before authorizing a specific remedial action plan.

On February 11, 2004, HEALTH concluded that based on information submitted by EA Engineering, the Bay View Recreational Center is safe for children and adults to use for sports and play activities.

On February 17, 2004 New England Gas Company, at the request of DEM agreed to conduct a second round of testing for properties in the study area that were previously tested in the initial phase of the investigation.

On March 2, 2004, soil with high amounts of arsenic levels was removed from two properties. The soil represented an imminent health hazard.

On May 7, 2004, DEM authorized ENACT $10,000 for technical assistance to review environmental remediation documents.

On June 9, 2004, Ransom Environmental Consultants, Inc. provided DEM with a report on historical use of the Simpson properties located south of Judson Street.

On June 18, 2004, DEM received a letter from New England Gas Company indicating the Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan will be modified based on DEM's June 2, 2004 comments. New England Gas Company agreed to submit a Site Investigation Work Plan for 17 additional properties. In addition, New England Gas Company and DEM agreed to characterize properties into four groupings.

On July 19, 2004, New England Gas Company submitted to DEM a Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan and Phase II Site Investigation Work Plan.

On August 3, 2004, DEM authorized ENACT an additional $10,000 for technical assistance to review environmental remediation documents.

On August 3, 2004, Finsness Environmental submitted a Subsurface Investigation Report to DEM concerning the property at 14 Last Street, where soil was stockpiled in October 2002.

On August 5, 2004, Ranson Environmental Consultants, Inc. provided DEM comments on New England Gas Company's Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan and Phase II Site Investigation Report.

On August 10, 2004, Woodward & Curran provided DEM comments on New England Gas Company's Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan and Phase II Site Investigation Report.

On August 11, 2004 Fuss & O'Neil, on behalf of ENACT, provided DEM comments on New England Gas Company's Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan and Phase II Site Investigation Report.

On August 18, 2004 DEM provided comments to New England Gas Company's Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan. Issues covered include arsenic and vanadium levels, sampling procedures for surface and subsurface soils, groundwater investigation, test pits and surface water.

On August 18, 2004 DEM provided comments to New England Gas Company's Phase II Site Investigation Work Plan.

On August 20, 2004, DEM responded to the New England Gas Company's Supplemental Site Investigation Work Plan and Phase II Site Investigation Work Plan prepared by their consultant VHB. Based on the conditional approval VHB was allowed to begin fieldwork.

On August 24, 2004, Weston Solutions, on behalf of EPA Region 1 Removals Program, submitted to DEM a Sampling and Analysis Plan concerning the mercury in soil contamination at 11A Connell Street site.

On August 30, 2004, DEM requested the Town of Tiverton and Starwood Tiverton LLC. to remove the remaining contaminated soil from the 14 Last Street property.

On September 28, 2004, DEM submitted a letter to US EPA concerning all applicable and relevant and appropriate regulations concerning mercury in soil in Rhode Island.

On August 15, 2005, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management received the Southern Union Company-New England Gas Divisions (NEGAS) submission of the Supplemental and Phase II Site Investigation Report (SSI).

ENACT provided comments to this report on November 14 and 17, 2005.

On November 23, 2005 DEM sent Southern Union Co. a Notice of Intent to Enforce.

On November 23, 2005 DEM provided comments to the Supplemental and Phase II Site Investigation Report.

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