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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Intermodal Response

Emergency response at Intermodal Response, Ayer, Mass.

On June 4, 2010, EPA was notified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection about a release of chemicals at the Fort Devens Intermodal Transfer Facility, a regional transportation hub where freight containers are moved between trains and trucks for final delivery. The contamination was initially discovered by a truck driver who reported a visibly wet area under one of the 53-foot intermodal containers to the Guilford of Maine Railroad, which operates the yard. Since the container, owned by J.B. Hunt Transportation, was marked with multiple UN Hazardous Materials placards, the EPA, DEP and Massachusetts HazMat team were notified and mobilized to support the Devens Fire Department, who had constructed a berm around the area to contain the spill pending further assessment and cleanup.

Placards on the container and the shipping manifests indicated the possible presence of products containing fluorosilicic acid, hypochlorite solution, caustic soda/sodium hydroxide, disinfecting liquid, corrosive solids, and corrosive liquids. Due to the extreme heat of the day, combined with the potential of a fire caused by chemical reactions, EPA called in contractors who came in with air monitoring equipment. By 1 pm, EPA contractors reported no elevated air readings above background levels. Once the container was opened and vented, responders found two poorly packaged pallets containing a variety of 5-gallons containers of detergents leaking corrosive bleaches and general purpose detergents.

For the next two days, DEP and EPA oversaw the contractor hired by J.B. Hunt as they segregated and inventoried all of the containers. Damaged containers were transferred and packed into 55-gallon drums, and undamaged product was re-packed and transferred to another placarded intermodal container. The contractor then cleaned the intermodal container. An estimated 75 gallons of liquids leaked from the intermodal trailer, most of which was thought to have leaked along the train tracks during transport since very little liquid was found beneath the trailer. EPA left the site on June 5.

Location: 133 Barnum Road, Ayer, Mass.
Start date: 06/04/2010
End date: 06/05/2010
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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