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City looks for grants to clean up toxic West Medford site

Posted by Jarret Bencks  November 21, 2012 10:20 AM

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The City of Medford is applying for $400,000 worth of federal grants to clean up a site contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical in West Medford.

The soil at two parcels of land at 448 High St. contain carcinogen perchloroethylene, according to Department of Environmental Protection records. The site has been home to several laundry and dry cleaning facilities dating back to the 1800s, and it is not clear who was responsible for the chemicals' presence, according to a letter written by Casey Duques, Medford's environmental agent to the City Council. 

The site has been owned by the city since 1961. It is currently used as a municipal parking lot.

The city is seeking two Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Cleanup Grants for $200,000 to remediate the site, Duques said. After the site is cleaned up, it could be converted into a parking garage, mixed-use development, or be used to expand a nearby Medford Housing Authority development, according to one grant application submitted by the city.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection found the site negatively impacts air quaility and the city has spent $295,000 on mitigation and site monitoring, Duques said. Nearby businesses have reported to the state that they have spent $300,000 on air quality mitigation.

The site poses an imminent hazard to 7 Canal St., 438 to 446 High St. and 452 to 460 High St., according to a 2009 report from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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