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From 1970 to 1989, GE Aerospace, a Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed Martin) heritage company, operated its Aerospace Instruments Control Systems Department in a 13‑acre industrial park at 50 Fordham Road in Wilmington, Mass. The site spans the towns of Wilmington and North Reading. Fordham Road runs along the west side of the property; industrial tenants abut the south of the property; and the north and east sides of the property are bordered by wooded wetlands. In 1989, GE Aerospace sold the property to Wilmington Realty Trust, which leased the property to companies such as Ametek Aerospace. While Lockheed Martin no longer owns the property, it retains responsibility for environmental cleanup associated with the former GE Aerospace business.
Contamination at the site first came to the attention of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in early 1986 when the Department was investigating sources of contaminants in the Stickney Well, a public water well located 500-feet east of the site. Over time, four areas of concern were identified at the Fordham Road site: an underground storage tank farm located close to Building 1, which included a chlorinated solvent groundwater plume; the Eastern Parking Lot area, which included Stoddard solvent (a mineral spirit), and some chlorinated solvent-impacted soil; Outfalls 1 and 2 in the wetlands, which included elevated levels of metals; and an area near underground storage Tank K, which contained elevated levels of chemicals associated with petroleum products. Consequently, in October 1987 the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection classified the property as a “priority disposal site.”
Site cleanup began before the Department of Environmental Protection designation. Two underground storage tanks were removed in 1986, and six more were removed the following June. One additional tank was removed in 1991, and the pipeline to the last remaining underground storage tank, Tank E, was repaired that same year. In February 1992, GE began collecting and treating groundwater in the tank farm area, discharging the treated effluent to the wetlands via Outfall 1. Also in early 1992, GE began removing the Stoddard solvent via a recovery trench located in the Eastern Parking Lot; the solvent-impacted soil was also removed and properly disposed. Monitoring of the groundwater near the parking lot continues. A soil-vapor extraction system was installed in the Tank K area in November 2000 to remove petroleum hydrocarbon compounds. Wetlands near Outfalls 1 and 2 were cleaned up and restored in 2004. Vegetation regrowth in the restored area was monitored for five years to assure that the cleanup was effective.
The Tank Farm pump-and-treat system operated until early 2002, when it was shut down. It was replaced in August 2003 by a second pump-and-treat system at the property line and augmented by injections of a specialized iron solution that degrades the chlorinated solvents. The pump-and-treat system was shut down temporarily in 2008 and remains shut down pending assessment of groundwater conditions. Finally, in mid-2011, Building 3 and the oil house at the site were demolished and underlying solvent-impacted soil was removed and transported off-site for disposal. Rubble from the demolition was appropriately recycled.
In 2000, Lockheed Martin contracted with an environmental consulting firm to assume authority for the cleanup of the Fordham Road site. Lockheed Martin resumed direct responsibility in late summer 2011. As part of its due diligence in this transition, Lockheed Martin is reassessing cleanup activities at the site and anticipates that this investigation will take until mid-2015.
The Fordham Road site is one of four designated as Public Involvement Plan (PIP) sites, in the Wilmington, Reading and North Reading area. In November 1999, private citizens petitioned the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to have the four sites so named in accordance with Massachusetts Law. Two public meetings were held in April 2000 to explain the cleanup plans and work that had been accomplished to date at the Fordham Road site. Regular communication with the community was continued while the site underwent active remediation. When Lockheed Martin completes its reassessment of the site in mid-2015, the results will be made available to the public and public input will be solicited.