Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction to the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment

This Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) was prepared by the Charles George Natural Resources Trustee Council (Trustee Council). The Trustee Council is comprised of three trustees for natural resources: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This document describes the injuries that occurred to natural resources as a result of contamination at the Charles George Landfill Superfund Site, and identifies alternatives for restoration of injured resources and the services these resources provide. In addition, this document constitutes the environmental assessment for the proposed restoration of natural resources as defined under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)(40 CFR Part 1502.10) and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) (M.G.L. c.30, §§ 61-62H, and 301 CMR 11.00), and addresses the potential impact of proposed restoration actions on the quality of the physical, biological, and cultural environment. This Final RP/EA is intended to inform the public of the proposed restoration actions.

Chapter 1.0 summarizes the history of the Charles George Landfill (Section 1.1); describes the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process including Trustee responsibilities and the legal settlements for the Charles George Landfill (Section 1.2); describes the natural resources restoration planning process (Section 1.3); lists the purpose and need for the RP/EA (Section 1.4); and summarizes the public notification and review provisions (Section 1.5).


1.1 History of the Charles George Landfill

 The Landfill

The Charles George Reclamation Trust Landfill is an inactive landfill located in the Towns of Tyngsborough and Dunstable, Massachusetts, which are located approximately 35 miles northwest of Boston. The landfill was used for municipal wastes from 1955 to 1973. In 1973, the landfill was permitted to accept hazardous wastes. In 1982, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals were detected in the drinking water supply wells of the Cannongate condominium complex located approximately 800 feet southwest of the site. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals were also detected in soils and sediments around the site. The site was closed, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began remedial activities.

Surrounding Environment

The landfill site is approximately 60 acres in size, and is surrounded by forest, wetlands, light industry, pasture land, and residences. It is located approximately one mile southwest of the town center of Tyngsborough, Massachusetts (Fig.1). The general area is presently receiving intense development pressure. To the east, U.S. Route 3 separates the landfill from the 16-acre

Flint Pond Marsh and 61-acre Flint Pond. Dunstable Brook and several of its small tributaries are located to the west of the landfill and join Bridge Meadow Brook southwest of the site. Bridge Meadow Brook flows northeast, looping around the landfill and emptying into Flint Pond. Two dams control the water levels of Flint Pond. A short distance below the second dam, the outlet stream of Flint Pond flows into the Merrimack River.

The two pathways by which contaminants from the landfill have reached the surrounding environment have been surface water runoff and groundwater migration. Surface water runoff (from rainfall) flows off of the landfill into a culvert that drains under Route 3 into Flint Pond Marsh. Groundwater lies in three different zones under the landfill: the overburden, shallow bedrock, and deep bedrock aquifers. There is a divide in groundwater flow for all three aquifers. The groundwater flows to the south in the western portion of the landfill and flows due east under the eastern portion. The deep bedrock aquifer in the western portion of the landfill is not believed to be within the contaminant pathway.

Remedial Activities

The remedial activities are summarized from EPA 1988 and EPA 1999. To address contamination of drinking water wells, the City of Lowell’s existing water supply system was extended to serve the Cannongate area, the Academy of Notre Dame, and the Flint Road neighborhood after landfill contaminants were detected in a monitoring well on Notre Dame’s

property and in a residential well on Flint Road. The extensions were completed in 1998. Remediation includes long-term groundwater monitoring to protect nearby residential drinking water.

To control the source of contamination, the landfill was capped with a synthetic membrane with surface water diversion, off-gas collection and venting, and leachate seep collection (completed in 1990). On-site overburden extraction wells were installed at the southwest (1993) and east areas (1994) of the site where the two identified contaminant plumes exist. Between 1992 and 1997, the combined groundwater and leachate were pumped to a 3.5 million gallon storage lagoon and then treated when the lagoon reached capacity. The water was treated on-site in a temporary treatment facility and discharged to the eastern sedimentation pond which then discharged to Bridge Meadow Brook. Ambient Water Quality Criteria were strictly met. There were ten rounds of treatment with a total of approximately 35 million gallons treated. In 1997, EPA extended the municipal sewer to the site. In early 1998, the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility issued the site an industrial discharge permit and the collected groundwater and leachate began discharging to the Publicly Owned Treatment Works via the extended sewer.

Landfill gas has been collected and treated since 1994. The gas is collected by a series of vents tying into a surficial (beneath the cap) gravel trench. The gas is then vacuum-transported to an enclosed flame where it is burned.

Part of the original plans for remediation included the removal of sediments from the upper portion of Dunstable Brook which were affected by carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs). The plan originally called for the sediments to be solidified on-site and placed under the landfill cap. However, in 1998, EPA resampled the affected area and analyzed for cPAHs. The results showed decreased concentration levels of cPAHs. EPA recalculated the risk associated with the cPAH levels using revised relative potency factors (the revision was based on recent toxicity data). The recalculation indicated that the sediments no longer posed an unacceptable human health risk. Therefore, removal of the sediments was determined to be unnecessary.

Chemical Hazards

High levels of inorganic contaminants have been found in groundwater and landfill leachate, and include: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, and zinc. High levels of chromium and zinc were detected in surface waters of the brooks and wetlands adjacent to the landfill, and Flint Pond. Elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc were measured in the sediments of Dunstable Brook and associated wetlands, and drainage streams (Ebasco 1987, 1988). Organic contaminants, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were also detected at elevated levels in the sediments of the Dunstable Brook system (Ebasco 1987, 1988). Figure 2 shows the locations of Flint Pond Marsh, the wetlands adjacent to the landfill, and the upper portion of Dunstable Brook.

1.2 Natural Resource Damage Assessment

Trustee Responsibilities Under CERCLA

Executive Order 12580 designated federal and state trustees for natural resources, which designations are set forth in greater detail in Subpart G of the National Contingency Plan, 40 C.F.R. Section 300.600. The Secretary of the Department of the Interior is a designated federal trustee for natural resources including migratory birds, some marine mammals, anadromous and catadromous fish, endangered species and their respective habitats, and federal lands managed by the Department. The Northeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been designated as Authorized Official to act on behalf of the Secretary as trustee for this Superfund Site. The Secretary of Commerce has delegated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration trusteeship for natural resources that include marine fishery resources, anadromous and catadromous fish, certain endangered species and their habitats. The states are designated trustees for all natural resources within their jurisdiction. The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has designated the Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs as trustee for all natural resources in the Commonwealth. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, natural resource trustees are authorized to assess and recover compensation for injury to or loss of natural resources resulting from a release of a hazardous substance.

Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 21 E, s.5) states that persons responsible for hazardous materials will be liable to the Commonwealth for all damages for injury to and for destruction or loss of natural resources.

The Settlements

In 1992 the State and Federal Trustees settled natural resource damage claims with the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). The total recovery of damages and future oversight expenses for all the Trustees was $1,353,440. The primary issue raised by DOI concerned the effects of heavy metals (i.e., arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, and zinc) and PAHs on migratory birds utilizing the contaminated Flint Pond Marsh. DOI determined that migratory birds had been injured in the past, and would continue to be injured, regardless of the success of the remedial action. Approximately 14.5 acres of Flint Pond Marsh (mostly emergent and deep water habitat) was calculated to have been adversely affected as migratory bird habitat, and it was estimated that 44 acres of wetland enhancement would be required to compensate for the injuries. DOI recovered $299,916 to provide for enhancement of 44 acres of wetlands to replace lost wetland resources, habitat, and productivity at the site, and to provide for long-term performance monitoring of the sites to assure success. This amount covers claims for past, interim, and residual damages for injury to the wetland migratory bird habitat.

The primary issue raised by NOAA regarded the potential migration of contaminants through Flint Pond to the Merrimack River. The Merrimack River supports runs of anadromous fish (spawns in freshwater but matures in saltwater), including runs of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), American shad (Alosa sapidissima), alewife herring (Alosa pseudoharengus), and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis). It also supports runs of the catadromous (spawns in saltwater but matures in freshwater) American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Potential discharges of contaminants through Flint Pond and into the Merrimack River could impact spawning habitat for American shad, alewife, and blueback herring in the Merrimack River, and adult habitat of American eel in Flint Pond and Bridge Meadow Brook. It was decided that the selected remedy would protect fishery resources in the Merrimack River as long as the Flint Pond dams are maintained. Flint Pond Marsh appears to act as an effective depositional area for pre-remedial contaminants transported from the landfill, and the dams at Flint Pond appear to limit the movement of sediments from Flint Pond Marsh. Therefore, the structural integrity of the dams is critical. NOAA’s portion of the settlement was based on the need to do ecological profiling involving collection and chemical analysis of sediments upstream and downstream of the dams, and collection of fish in the Merrimack River near the dams for tissue analysis. The settlement also included the need to conduct long-term monitoring to assure that the remedial action was effective. Since the structural integrity of the dams is critical to contaminant source control, the settlement also included monies for the Federal natural resource trustees to monitor and possibly initiate needed structural surveys. NOAA recovered $134,624 for damages and future oversight expenses. The federal settlements together included $25,000 for past assessment costs and $50,000 for future oversight expenses.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts made a claim on behalf of injuries to groundwater and wetlands. Groundwater damage calculations were based on the costs of replacing the services lost due to site contamination. The groundwater contamination had made the aquifer unsuitable as a source of water for residential and non-residential users. As a result, present and future water users would be forced to develop alternate water supply systems. The Commonwealth’s claim for injuries to wetlands was based on the loss of 9.25 acres of wetlands due to contamination and physical alteration during the capping and remediation of the landfill. The wetlands cited in the claim were specifically: 3.25 acres of wetlands along Dunstable Brook and approximately 110 feet of the tributary channel to Dunstable Brook; 2.0 acres of wetland in Flint Pond Marsh along the Route 3 drainage system; 2.0 acres of altered wetlands adjacent to the landfill; and 1.5 acres of wetlands adjacent to the landfill that were destroyed in the process of remediation (Holcomb 1990). The Commonwealth recovered $918,900 for damages to state natural resources.

1.3 Natural Resource Restoration Planning

The Memorandum of Agreement

In 1996, the three Trustees for natural resources signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in recognition of the common interests to restore, replace and/or acquire the equivalent natural resources which were injured, destroyed, or lost by the releases of hazardous substances from or at the Charles George Landfill Superfund Site. The MOA outlines a framework for the development of a Trustee Council that is providing for the cooperative development and implementation of a single plan to restore injured natural resources (Restoration Plan). In addition to the three Trustee representatives, the MOA also provides for the inclusion of ex-officio, or non-voting members on the Trustee Council. In the case of the Charles George Natural Resources Trustee Council, the ex-officio members include technical and legal advisors from the state and federal agencies, a citizen from the Town of Tyngsborough, a representative from the Town of Tyngsborough Conservation Commission, and a representative from the Merrimack River Watershed Council.


Restoration Planning, NEPA, and MEPA

Prior to using funds for restoration, CERCLA requires that (1) a plan for use of such funds be developed and adopted by the Trustees, and (2) adequate public notice and opportunity for hearing and consideration of all public comments be granted. In addition, the DOI Natural Resource Damage Assessment Regulations (43 CFR, Part 11) provide for: (1) the development of a "Restoration and Compensation Determination Plan that lists a reasonable number of possible alternatives for restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, and/or acquisition of equivalent resources and the related services lost to the public associated with each" [s. 11.81]; and (2) upon determination of the award of a Natural Resource Damage claim the Trustees shall prepare a Restoration Plan to describe how the monies will be used. Such Restoration Plan shall be made available for public review for a period of at least 30 days [s. 11.93].

Under NEPA and MEPA the Trustees must also assess the potential environmental impacts associated with each of the proposed restoration actions. This Draft RP/EA integrates NEPA and MEPA requirements by summarizing the affected environment, describing the purpose and need for action, identifying alternative actions and assessing their applicability and environmental consequences, and summarizing opportunities for public participation in the decision process.

The Trustees believe the Final RP/EA indicates that the proposed actions will not have significant impacts on the quality of the human environment.

1.4 Purpose and Need

The underlying purpose of the proposed action is to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of natural resources injured or destroyed as a result of contamination from the Site, pursuant to applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The underlying need for the action is to ensure the recovery of natural resources injured as a result of contamination from the landfill. The primary injuries resulting from contamination at the Site involve the impairment of groundwater and wetland resources, and the potential effect that a continuing migration of contaminants

into the Merrimack River could have on migratory fish. The settlement for DOI regarding wetlands referred specifically to the resulting loss of habitat services to wetland-dependent migratory birds.

1.5 Public Notification and Review

Under CERCLA, NEPA, and MEPA, the Trustees must notify the public and any federal, state, or local agencies with special interests or expertise relating to the RP/EA. To satisfy this requirement, the Trustees published the notice of the availability of the Draft RP/EA in the Federal Register, the Environmental Monitor, the Lowell Sun, the Billerica Minuteman, and the Boston Globe. The document was also available for review at the Tyngsborough Public Library, the Dunstable Public Library, and the Billerica Public Library, and copies of the Draft RP/EA were available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition, the the Trustee Council conducted a public meeting on November 29, 2001 in Tyngsborough. A summary of questions and comments received and the Trustee Council’s responses is provided in Section 5.0. Written comments from the public are reproduced in Appendix D.

A copy of the Final RP/EA will be available for review at the Tyngsborough Public Library:

Tyngsborough Public Library
25 Bryants Lane
Tyngsborough, Massachusetts 01879
(978) 649-7361

Hours: Monday and Wednesday                     9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday           9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday                                             10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Copies of the Final RP/EA will be obtainable from the following address:


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Prepared by: The Charles George Natural Resources Trustee Council
Issued: September 2002

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Laura Eaton
c/o Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Weir Hill Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
Phone: (978) 443-4661; Fax: (978) 443-2898
Last updated: February 13, 2013