Uranium Waste in Concord
Nuclear Metals Incorporated, now known as Starmet Corporation, produced the depleted uranium penetrator, used as an anti-tank weapon by the U.S. Army. From 1958 to 1985, the company disposed of 400,000 pounds of depleted uranium and other toxic waste into an unlined holding basin at the rear of their property. During their disposal of this contaminated waste, no measures were taken to safeguard the environment. In 2001, the site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List through the hard work of CREW, the Concord Board of Selectmen, concerned citizens, and other organizations such as the Organization of the Assabet River (OAR), Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) and Concord River Environmental Stream Team (CREST).
Contamination in the Groundwater
Over the years, dangerous process waste has migrated downward through the soil and contaminated the groundwater beneath the property. The groundwater is carrying the waste downhill in the direction of the Assabet River. The Assabet River flows into the Concord River, in turn flowing into the Merrimack River. At least one community, Billerica, uses the Concord River as its drinking water supply. One of the important goals in the cleanup of this Superfund site is to remove the depleted uranium from the soil and water so that it does not contaminate the Assabet River.
More than One Kind of Danger
In addition to depleted uranium, beryllium, a toxic metal, is also present at the Starmet Superfund site. Since the Environmental Protection Agency began additional soil sampling at the site in 2001, beryllium has shown up in several samples at concentrations high enough to pose a potential health risk to any individuals who may become exposed to it. The EPA is working to gain a better understanding of the extent of beryllium contamination in the soils around the property.
A Problem for a Long Time
If no action is taken at the Starmet site, the depleted uranium, which is both chemically toxic and radioactive, could remain a health hazard for many thousands of years. CREW is working hard to ensure that we do not pass on this legacy of contamination to future generations.