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EPA Begins Assessment of Sampling From W.R. Grace Site

EPA said that it will finalize a site assessment of sampling data from asbestos testing of surface soils at the W.R. Grace site in North Cambridge, Mass.

EPA said that it has received sampling data from asbestos testing of surface soils at the W.R. Grace site in North Cambridge, Mass.

Within the next month, the agency will finalize a site assessment based on the data and decide what actions, if any, are necessary to protect public health in and around the site.

The data showed very low asbestos levels in surface soils ranging from undetectable levels to a maximum of only 0.02 percent by weight.

"The sampling shows no elevated levels of asbestos in the surface soils, but as we frequently do, we''re getting a health consultation to be sure of the situation," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA''s New England office. "We''re working as fast as we can to finish our analysis. As soon as we do, we''ll let the community know the results and we''ll take appropriate action."

The sampling data is being analyzed at EPA''s request by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), who will determine whether there is a threat to human health from asbestos in the surface soils, considering the current use and conditions of the site.

EPA will then decide if a removal action conducted under the Superfund program is necessary based on the results of that health consultation.

The data is from EPA sampling done last September at the 27-acre W.R. Grace property, an adjacent commercial property and nearby city-owned land.

EPA collected more than 50 samples of soil and other materials from depths of zero to 3 inches.

EPA tested the samples for asbestos, using two different testing methods to double-check accuracy on half of the samples.

EPA began studying the site after receiving letters from neighbors concerned about possible asbestos use at the facility.

What is now the Grace property has bee in industrial or commercial use since the 1800s. Former uses included clay mining operations, a railroad, brickyard and chemical company.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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