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Arsenic Found In Crane River, Former Leather Factory Site

The DEP and EPA discovered hazardous contaminants in the area surrounding the former Creese and Cook Tannery on Water Street.

The Mass. Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this month will begin a process to decontaminate surface soils surrounding the former Creese and Cook Tannery on Water Street, areas that were deemed an imminent health hazard earlier this year.

The main contaminants found on the site were arsenic, chromium, and dioxin, Danvers Health Director Peter Mirandi told the on Thursday.

Along the railroad track, inside the Crane River sediment and the soil at the 33 Water St. and 55 Clinton St. property have all been deemed imminent hazards that pose both human health and ecological risks. The areas have been fenced since February 2012.

The fifth location, a vacant wooded area on Cheever Street, is not an imminent health hazard, but tannery contaminants are present.

In 2011, the EPA and DEP had met with the owners of the 33 Water Street condominiums and applied to be placed on the National Priority List for a Federal Superfund.

A hazardous waste site can qualify for a Superfund if:

  • There are significant human and ecological risks
  • The investigation/cleanup was not moving forward
  • The company that formally owns the site no longer exists
  • The superfund listing provides the best opportunity for comprehensive cleanup.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis, along with Gov. Deval Patrick, have been working with the federal government to take over the project. Proposals to the NPL currently occur twice a year, next in September 2012 and April 2013.

This month's action is a temporary measure to secure soils, until a more comprehensive cleanup can be completed, the EPA said in a PowerPoint presentation the Board of Health.

The Creese & Cook Tannery, where animal hides were processed into shoe, handbag, glove and garnet leather, opened in 1903. In 1914, the tannery expanded across the Crane River to 55 Clinton Ave., and operated on both sides until 1983, when the tannery closed.

The former tannery was developed into 28 residential condos in 1986.

Mirandi said a Superfund had been granted in Danvers roughly 10 years ago for dangerous levels of lead contimation at a daycare center on Putnam Lane.

According to a letter given to residents in the area, "During the first days of excavation activities, workers handling the contaminated soil may be dressed in protective clothing, including white tyvek coveralls as a routine precautionary measure."

The EPA is going to be invited to the June meeting to further answer Board of Health and residents' inquiries.

Pete April 20, 2012 at 02:48 PM
This does not surprise me at all. I could not believe it when the condominiums were allowed to be built at the old Creese & Cook site. Common sense told me that with all the chemicals Creese & Cook used and pumped into the Crane River that area would have to be contaminated. I know of too many people from "The Port" who have died from cancer over the years.
Tom King April 21, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Your kidding , Right. They are Just NOW finding contaminatnts. Years ago there were stories reported re the dumping of leather manufacturing waste in NH and the ground water contaminations as the rusult of that .. Those areas have smelled odorous since I was a kid and I'm sure long before that. When the Danvers K of C got discarded barrells from the leather factories for the annual 4th of July bonfire I still rember the smell Dad had on him when he came home from a mixture of drummed hides and chemicals.
Susan April 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Sad that such things are kept from hard working, tax-paying residents. Shame on the Town of Danvers and the State of Massachusetts!!
Joan Turcotte April 27, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Wonder what else is going to be revealed about soil contamination in the Port area.Time to stop dumping on the Port, time to clean up the problems around here, stop covering up. My family and friends all grew up here, what health problems are we to expect in the future? Who is going to be accountable?
Andrew Deacon May 01, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Looks like the EPA has released an official statement (link below) and there was only a very small portion of soil that is an imminent hazard and is being removed now. Good news for those that live there. I live in the area too and the problem is that no one will be accountable. The companies that dumped 50 to 100 years ago are not around any more. You're on your own or partnering with the EPA. http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/danvers/2012/04/environmental_protection_agenc.html

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