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Staff Writer

AYER– Students, faculty, staff and parents of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School can breathe a sigh of relief, and fresh air, when they make their way back to school in the fall.

Ginny Lombardo, of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), presented the results of a study, conducted in February, at the Devens Restoration Advisory Board’s June 19 meeting in Ayer Town Hall.

“The scope of the February study was due to the fuel spills back in the 70s,” she said. “We collected indoor air samples, along with soil gas samples in different areas of the school.”

Samples were collected at the school in the library, faculty room, outside courtyard area, in the crawl spaces and underneath the concrete slab.

“The soil gas sample was specifically collected from the boiler room,” Lombardo said. “The faculty room and library would be the two areas if there were any contamination left.”

The study was conducted by EPA Risk Assessor Richard Sugatt using different exposure assumptions for students and faculty and staff.

Students were assessed using the maximum samples for seven hours a day, 200 days per year for six years, while the faculty and staff were gauged at eight hours per day, 288 days a year for 20 years.

The test was conducted for both cancer and non-cancer risk factors.

“If (the hazard quotient) is over 1, you know you have a problem,” Sugatt said. “Based on the samples collected and the components used in the testing, the cancer and non-cancer risks are within the acceptable range for the EPA.”

Sugatt tested the air and soil gas for 36 chemicals including benzene, trichloroethane, hexane and tetrachloroethylene.

Lombardo and Sugatt plan to present the findings to the faculty and staff at Parker after Sugatt changes the faculty’s working days from Sept. 1 through June 15 to Aug. 5 through June 30.

“I don’t think the numbers will change that much,” Sugatt said of changing the dates. “These calculations are based on the fact the students, faculty and staff all stay in the same place throughout the year.”

The group also had an update from Chuck Castelluccio, of Arcadis. Castelluccio reported on the Area of Contamination (AOC) at Moore Army Airfield from chemicals used to clean parachutes in the 1960s.

“The purpose of the five-year review,” Castelluccio said, “is to determine whether the remedy in place at the site is still protective of human health and the environment.”

The remedies selected are soil vapor extraction, in-well stripping, enhanced reductive dechlorination (ERD) and re-precipitation of solubilized inorganics.

“In the in-well stripping, we extract the water by stripping out the volatiles,” Castelluccio explained. “In both the ERD and re-precipitation methods, molasses is injected into the wells to defuse the contamination.”

Adding oxygen and stripping the volatiles in the in-well stripping has been very effective, according to Castelluccio.

Though the soil vapor extraction was shut down in November 2005, both the ERD and in-well stripping are still functioning, Castelluccio said.

“I think we have good coverage with this type of system,” he added. “With this type of system you can add wells without needing to change the infrastructure and at low cost.”

The AOC has seen a big decrease in concentration of the contamination and Castelluccio recommended the current actions continue, with long-term groundwater monitoring and the next five-year review to be conducted in 2010.

The next Devens Restoration Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18 in Harvard.

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