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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Providence Barrel

Providence Barrel

This site encompasses about two acres of mixed open land and sparse brush cover. It sits in a mixed residential and commercial/industrial area. Providence Barrel was a barrel reclamation facility from 1972 to 1980. The chemical composition and volume of material spilled or dumped on the property is unknown and all buildings and foundations have been removed. The Woonasquatucket River is about 700 feet east of the former facility. The entrance to the property is often used for parking for the neighborhood. The nearest private home is located about 75 feet away.

Before and during the removal action, EPA and the RI Department of Environmental Management investigated whether the contaminated soil and potentially contaminated groundwater were causing significant vapor in nearby homes.

On March 10, 2008, EPA approved an investigation and cleanup at the site and surrounding properties. The work included sampling to characterize the extent of contamination; excavating and disposing of contaminated soils; constructing a cap over contaminated soils that cannot be excavated; backfilling excavated areas with clean fill material; investigating and addressing any vapor problems at nearby homes, and repairing response-related damage.

Excavation of contaminated soil was completed between May and June 2008, and operations then moved to the adjacent parcel at 18-20 Esmond St., where elevated levels of lead related to the sites were found in soil. Trees were cleared prior to excavation. X-ray diffraction (XRF) technology allowed the excavation to proceed without waiting for laboratory data on the levels of lead remaining in the soil. The instrument reads in situ soils and gives results in about 30 seconds. About 10 percent (minimum) of the samples were sent to the EPA's laboratory to verify the XRF results. Backfill was placed over the excavated areas.

After abutting properties were screened for lead in surface soils and results indicated that lead contamination in surface soils was widespread on adjacent private properties, EPA expanded the scope of the cleanup. In June 2008, excavation continued on the property adjacent to the Providence Barrel site. In July, excavation began on other adjacent private properties also contaminated with lead in surface soils. All excavated soil was stockpiled on the primary site before it was sent off site for disposal. As the properties were cleared of contamination, landscape restoration followed.

In October and November, excavation and restoration on 17 private properties were completed. In November, a chain link fence removed during the excavation was replaced. In June 2009, EPA contractors and landscape professionals repaired areas damaged by erosion over the winter. They reseeded lawns and fertilized as necessary and planted ornamental plants and shrubs to complete the restoration.

Location: 17 Oak Street, Smithfield, RI
Start date: 04/21/2008
End date: 06/19/2009
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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