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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Preferred Freezer Services Site

On the morning of April 3, 2014, EPA learned of an anhydrous ammonia release at the Preferred Freezer Services facility, which stores frozen foods. The leak was caused by a safety valve failure on an exterior tank. The neighborhood was evacuated for 4.5 hours due to odors. The released ammonia had made it to the one-story facility’s storm drains, which empty into the Wading River. The local fire department, an emergency contractor, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Fire Services Hazmat D1, and five other fire departments were there, as well as EPA. Ammonia gas had adhered to the condensation ice on the outside of the tank. An industrial fan was brought in to melt the ice. Ammonia concentrations in the mechanical room near the spill area were up to three times recommended limits.

When an industrial fan at the door to the mechanical room did not reduce ammonia levels, a contractor hired by Preferred removed debris from a drain trench outside the door that was plugged. Norton fire department tried to reduce the concentration of contamination flowing into a stream by flushing the storm drains, but this was not bringing the pH levels down to acceptable levels. Sediment and water in the storm drains and catch basins were vacuumed and the cleanup contractor worked through the night to clean out the system. The stream and a downstream pond continued to have high pH levels. A temporary dam was built to separate the contaminated water, which was at the entrance to the pond. The contractor vacuumed the contaminated water out of the stream and put it into 20,000-gallon tanks, but the pH did not fall enough over night to allow it to be released back into the stream. Altogether 11,000 gallons of contaminated water and two cubic yards of contaminated sludge was taken from the storm drain system and 20,000 gallons of contaminated water was taken from the stream.

Location: 380 South Worcester St., Norton, Mass.
EPA Mobilization Date*: April 3, 2014
EPA Demobilization Date*: April 4, 2014
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

*The information contained on this website is merely informational; any dates found on the website cannot be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States. EPA reserves the right to change such dates at any time without public notice.

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