“Toxic Legacy” — A short film about Gorham and Alvarez High School
by Alvarez’s 2013 AP Environmental Science Class and Artist David Stephens
December 2012 Gorham Site Update:
Textron completed the first phase of the “Park Parcel” cleanup. Check out this photo of the new capped land, with new grass starting to grow along the shores of Mashapaug Pond. In a few years this area will be a huge asset for the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood and Alvarez High School – as a park and walking trails along the pond. Now that Phase 1 is over, Phase 2 can begin in the coming year, which will include dredging the pond cove and removing toxic sediments. The final Phase 3 will include capping the land behind the Stop and Shop retail space.
The City of Providence also recently sent in an application to the EPA for a Brownfields Cleanup Grant to help pay for the costs of remediating Parcel C, which sits next to Alvarez and will become athletic fields for the school. You can read the application on the Providence Planning Department’s website. If awarded, Textron has agreed to match the $200,000 grant in order to support the costs of remediating Parcel C.
The EJ League has been working with residents, DEM, the City, and Textron for almost the past two years, holding meetings every three months to check in on work happening at the site, and is excited at all the recent progress!
September 2012 Gorham Site Update:
Plans are underway for Textron to begin remedial work on the “Park Parcel” — the land behind Alvarez High School that borders Mashapaug Pond this month. Textron is also proposing a groundwater cleanup plan and is currently asking for public comments regarding their proposal until September 12th 2012. The next full stakeholder meeting including residents, staff from Alvarez High School, the EJ League, the City of Providence, Textron, and the RI Department of Environmental Management will be meeting at the end of September to share updates on the progress of the cleanup.
June 2012 Gorham Site Update:
Reservoir Triangle residents and other concerned members of the community continue to meet with representatives from Textron, the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and the City of Providence to advance progress on the cleanup of the Gorham Manufacturing Site. Thanks to residents making the cleanup a priority and ensuring accountability from the various stakeholders that are involved, cleanup actions on the “Park Parcel” behind Alvarez High School are slated to get underway this summer (2012).
Plans for Phase 1 of the Park Parcel cleanup can be found on DEM’s website here (check out the “Letter to Textron” on 8/17/11 and the “Draft Remedial Action Work Plan” on 2/27/12).
Plans include capping the area on the shore of Mashapaug Pond directly behind Alvarez High school that was once a dumping ground for lead slag from Gorham’s smelter (the cap will consist of a thick plastic liner plus 1 ft of clean soil); digging out certain “hot spots” of highly contaminated soil on the western shoreline of Mashapaug Pond and placing it under another set of caps consisting of 2 feet of clean soil on the slopes leading down to the pond; and creating a wetland buffer zone cap (1 ft of clean soil plus wetland plants) on either side of the lead slag cap on the edge of the pond. Textron will also continue monitoring groundwater contamination and developing a remediation plan for it; contaminated groundwater continues to flow towards the pond from the contamination source under the parking lot in front of the now vacant Stop and Shop building.
Phases 2 and 3 of the Park Parcel will be completed in years to come. Public meetings will be held before any plans are approved for either of these next phases. Phase 2 will clean up the Mashapaug Pond cove and Phase 3 will clean up the land behind the Stop and Shop building.
The EJ League and our partner the Urban Pond Procession also continue to work together to engage students, parents, and staff at Alvarez High School. Since the school was built in 2007, communication within the school community about the ongoing cleanup has been — at best — inconsistent — and at worst — non-existent. Earlier this year we achieved an important victory getting the City of Providence to mail home a letter to all Alvarez Parents with current information about the safety systems at the school protecting their children, and what further cleanup actions are being planned for the rest of the site.
This Spring, UPP and the EJ League also worked together with an Alvarez High School student who did her senior research project about the site and cleanup. We brought the EJ League’s GreenD(RI)VE biodiesel bus, outfitted by the UPP as a mobile community museum about Mashapaug Pond, Gorham, and the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood, to Alvarez on Wednesday, May 23rd to give students and teachers a peek into the historical legacy of Gorham and future plans for their high school’s current home.
Our vision is for Alvarez students and staff to have a fantastic school with athletic fields and outdoor spaces that are safe and clean; and to restore Mashapaug Pond and the surrounding land so that all neighborhood residents can have access to this beautiful pond in the middle of their neighborhood that has for so many years been neglected and actively polluted. We’re working together to make this a reality!
If you have any questions about the cleanup of the Gorham site, feel free to contact Amelia Rose at 383-7441 or [email protected]
March 2012 E-Newsletter Update:
Residents and the EJ League achieved an important victory last month working with the City of Providence and Textron: a letter from the City was sent to all parents at Alvarez High School detailing the current conditions of the site where the school is located and what cleanup actions are being planned there this Spring. Since Alvarez High School was built in 2007, communication with parents, students, and staff at the school about the ongoing cleanup of the school site has been — at best — inconsistent and — at worst — non-existent. Parents, students, and staff deserve to be kept well-informed about progress on the cleanup and any potential risks the continuing cleanup might pose on their health. Our vision is for Alvarez students and staff to have a fantastic school with athletic fields and outdoor spaces that are safe and clean. The only way this will be achieved is to have all stakeholders well-informed and given the opportunity to fully participate. Read the letters here:
December 2011 E-Newsletter Update:
In 2011 EJLRI continued to work with residents living next to the former Gorham Manufacturing Site in the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood of Providence. EJLRI and residents saw through a long-awaited approval from RIDEM (RI’s state environmental agency) on Textron’s (the responsible party) remediation plan for a remaining unremediated part of the site behind Alvarez High School. This approval came about solely due to consistent community organizing efforts that raised the profile of the site and demanded greater accountability from the various players.
EJLRI also secured technical assistance help from the EPA to review technical documents related to the cleanup and inform residents of ways Textron’s cleanup plan could be more protective of public health, organized a large public meeting and submitted public comments along with residents, and achieved a major campaign victory of quarterly meetings now held with all site stakeholders (RIDEM, Textron, the City of Providence, the city council member, state representative, and residents) as an accountability tool to ensure continued progress and transparency as the cleanup continues.
EJLRI also successfully contacted 5 homeowners living directly across from the site to gain permission for Textron to perform subslab air testing in their homes, which have been impacted by groundwater vapors emanating from the Gorham site. This had been attempted by Textron two years earlier with no success. After performing the air testing, Textron installed ventilation systems (similar to radon systems) in four of these homes. Currently, EJLRI is working with the City of Providence and local community members to provide information about the status of the remediation process to the students, parents and faculty of Alvarez High School.
Thank you for coming to the special Community Forum on the current status of the Gorham Manufacturing Site on May 11th.
Lea sobre el foro comunitario sobre la fabrica Gorham en Providence en Espanol el 11 de mayo.