Mohawk Tannery to be redeveloped

Public invited to comment on Superfund site cleanup

Staff photo by Damien Fisher The old leather tanning facility off Fairmount Street, adjacent to numerous homes, was declared a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Task Force Site because of the toxic sludge leftover from the tanning process.

NASHUA – The contaminated land at the Mohawk Tannery property off Fairmount Street will be cleaned up under a proposal to redevelop the site being presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is holding a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. July 25 at Nashua City Hall to present information on the cost analysis and engineering evaluation of the contaminated site. This comes after months of relative silence about the future of the 30-acre site.

“I’d like to thank the EPA for working with us to establish a meeting date to discuss the Mohawk Tannery,” Mayor Jim Donchess said Monday. “I’m glad that members of the Nashua community will have the opportunity to have their voices heard about the matter.”

Mohawk was declared a Superfund Task Force site, a step which puts it in line for an expedited cleanup and remediation effort, earlier this year. It was first named by the EPA in December as a location to be dealt with quickly, though it is not on the National Priority List as most Superfund Sites are.

The site was operated as a leather tannery for 60 years before it shut down in the 1980s. Records show it is currently owned by the Chester Realty Trust, based Hernando, Florida. The site is contaminated with arsenic, cadmium, manganese, and other substances left over from the business process. The property has been on the EPA’s radar since around 2000.

According to documents made available online, the EPA is currently working with a prospective buyer to redevelop the property as part of the remediation plans. The buyer is not yet being named. EPA representatives said Monday a buyer is on board, and there is a purchase and sales agreement in place. The buyer will split the costs of remediating the property with the EPA.

The EPA has prepared different options to deal with the site, and is seeking the public’s input on the plans. The preferred option for the EPA consists of consolidating all of the toxic sludge left from the tanning process and encapsulating the contaminated soil. That plan is estimated to cost between $8 million and $14 million.

The other options include treating the contaminated soil on site, and capping the residual as a cost close to $19 million; or removing the contaminated soil and treating it offsite at a cost of $32 million.

Those interested reading the EPA’s recommendations and submitting a public comment can do so at www.epa.gov/superfund/mohawk. The public comment period started Monday and is scheduled to be open through to Aug. 8.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.

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