The Office of Planning, Development, and Sustainability works with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to remediate brownfields in the City of Medford. 

A brownfield is a former industrial or commercial site whose future use is affected by environmental contamination. The Office of PDS works to ensure that these sites no longer pose health risks to the local community and environment. 

Below are several brownfields under City ownership that have been remediated or are in the remediation process.   

Medford City Hall

On July 27, 1998, two underground storage tanks (USTs) containing oil located underneath the boiler room in Medford City Hall were removed to convert the City Hall’s heating system to natural gas. During the removal, petroleum-contaminated soil was discovered surrounding the USTs, and liquid non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL), a groundwater contaminant, was observed entering the bottom of the excavation site. Upon inspection, the tanks were found to be heavily corroded with holes in them; oil likely leaked from the USTs for several months or years prior to their removal on July 27, 1998. 

Primary chemicals of concern in the site include extractable and volatile petroleum hydrocarbon (EPH and VPH fractions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). LNAPL leakage was found 6-10 feet below the ground surface. 

The City is working with a licensed site professional to show that the contamination has stabilized. To ensure that the site is no longer considered a substantial hazard, a monitoring program of monthly LNAPL gauging and groundwater sampling has been implemented. The Mass DEP has deemed that response actions for this site were sufficient to ensure that all substantial hazards have been eliminated from the site. However, the City is working on the final rounds of monitoring and reporting and will close the site with an Activity and Use Limitation (AUL).

More information about the Medford City Hall brownfield can be found in the most recent Post Temporary Solution Status Report

Medford Department of Public Works

In November 1998, five underground storage tanks located underneath the Medford DPW Yard were removed and petroleum contamination in the soil was observed. Due to historical leakage from these underground tanks, the soil and groundwater underneath DPW Yard were found to be contaminated with metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and petroleum hydrocarbons. 

Since the discovery of the contamination, the soil was excavated and recycled or disposed off-site. In July and August of 2013, the existing buildings on DPW Yard were demolished to rebuild the new DPW on the same property. The redevelopment of DPW was completed in 2015. 

The final Permanent Solution with Conditions Report, written in May 2020, concluded that no substantial hazards exist at the Medford DPW site. The Office of Energy & Environment worked with a licensed site professional to file an Action and Use Limitation (AUL) on this property, and the site was closed out in 2020.

West Medford Parking Lot

In September 2008, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) required the owner of 7 Canal Street properties to conduct soil and groundwater investigations as part of a program to re-evaluate sites that had been previously contaminated with tetrochloroethene (PCE). Samples taken from the site between October to December 2008 revealed concentrations of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in the soil and groundwater, and subsequently indoor air quality of the buildings at 7 Canal Street was tested for contamination throughout January 2009. The air samples indicated potential for Imminent Hazard (IH) condition in the buildings at 7 Canal Street as well as 438-446 High Street and 452-460 High Street. After the Mass DEP required all property owners to minimize the pollution, the City of Medford decided to take the lead on the remediation of the entire site to protect the health and welfare of its citizens and the environment. 

In May 2017, the City began comprehensive remediation activities including in-situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) to reduce soil contamination. Three rounds of injections have been completed: the first in May/June 2017, the second in May 2018, and the third in April 2019. Treatment to mitigate the impacts of PCE contamination on indoor air were also conducted and continue into the present. 

The site at 7 Canal Street and the surrounding properties are in stable conditions. The releases that caused the contamination are believed to have occurred decades ago and are no longer leaking contaminants into the surrounding environment. As of May 17, 2019, all remediation equipment and personnel were removed, and hazardous waste has been transported offsite for disposal by a licensed contractor. 

As of Fall 2020 the City is waiting on direction from the consultant, but we anticipate needing one more round of treatments.

More information about the status of this brownfield can be found in its most recent Status Report.

Riverbend Park

This brownfield site is located in the northern corner of Riverbend Park, behind Andrews Middle School and surrounded by Shipside Village Condominiums, playing fields and adjacent to the Mystic River. It is the most recent of the brownfields currently under the City’s management, with the official notification date of the site’s contamination sent to the Mass DEP on April 24, 2017. 

In anticipation of the City’s proposed construction of a gravel wetland, soil samples were taken at this site. The samples revealed EPH hydrocarbon fractions, polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and concentrations of arsenic and lead exceeding Mass DEP state standards. This fact sheet outlines more information about lead and how to prevent lead exposure. After notifying the Mass DEP, the site was declared an Imminent Hazard to the surrounding community. 

Below are several public notices sent by the City regarding the Riverbend Park remediation, as well as the DCR approval letter to begin remediation. 

DCR Approval Letter

Abutter Letter 7/6/17

Abutter Letter 8/16/18

Abutter Letter 4/2/19

Abutter Letter 6/27/19

Most of the area has been cleaned up and is now safe for public recreation. The fence has been removed from that portion of the park and the future Clippership Connector is being designed to come through that area. One small portion of the park continues to be fenced off and will be capped with concrete. City staff are working with the Medford Arts Council and Community Preservation Grant to install a labyrinth, which will provide passive recreation and community art to beautify the cap. Construction is expected to begin in the Spring of 2021.