Simmons Environmental Services, Inc.
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Tests Show Riverside School, Adjacent Parcel Free of Contamination

DANVERS, Mass. — A series of soil, groundwater and sediment tests at Riverside School and an adjacent parcel show the properties to be free of contamination and that no further action is required.

Licensed Site Professional William A. Simmons, of Simmons Environmental Services Inc. of Salisbury, delivered the findings Monday. In a report presented to Board of Health Director Peter M. Mirandi, Simmons Environmental Services declared both properties are “in compliance with applicable guidelines” from both the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“Consequently, no further actions are warranted concerning conditions at the Riverside School,” reported Simmons. Samples were collected Oct. 14 from 10 test borings at the Riverside School and abutting parcel to the north. Three surface samples were also collected from the wetland area to the west of the school. These were composited to represent sediment conditions along the banks of the Porter River that abut the school. Samples were subsequently analyzed for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury. Additionally, sediment samples from the marsh area next to the Porter River were analyzed for extractable petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and reactive sulfides. No contaminants were found with levels above reportable concentrations. Below this limit, trace materials are considered to approach naturally occurring background levels.

A public involvement committee, comprised of 16 citizens, identified specific areas of concerns, provided guidance regarding depth of testing and asked for the addition of the abutting property to the sampling and testing program.

Of particular interest to the committee were levels of chromium, particularly the potential existence of the more hazardous variety, hexavalent chromium. According to Simmons, “No hexavalent chromium above the laboratory’s methods limit of detection was reported.”

Committee members completed and returns surveys via the World Wide Web and regular mail and discussed all concerns at a public hearing Oct. 2 in Town Hall. Both the state and federal governments have turned to these kinds of public involvement activities in recent years to make sure specific citizen concerns are addressed.

Committee members include School Committee members Bill Bates, Eric Crane, John Paskowski, Jean McCartin and Ralph Swift; Assistant Superintendent of Schools Lisa Dana; Danvers Public Schools Director of Finance and Administration Richard Warren; Riverside School Principal Rose Marie DiResta; Board of Health Chairman Robert Kellard; Judy Freehan and Cassandra Georgilakis, parents of students; Grace M. Puleo, Peter Clement and Sandra A. Lane, residents; Emery P. Todd, former selectman and Finance Committee member; and Aileen L’Abbe, chairman, Danvers River Committee.

Concerns were first raised last year after testing showed residues exceeding conservative acceptable concentration levels in certain river sediment samples.

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