sutton brook disposal area


The Sutton Brook Disposal Area ("the site"), which is roughly synonymous with the Rocco's Disposal Area site, is located off South Street on the eastern boundary of Tewksbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The site is in excess of 50 acres. A small portion of the site also extends into the Town of Wilmington, Massachusetts. The Sutton Brook Disposal Area is bound by a former railroad grade along the northern boundary, beyond which is a former piggery and a forested area; residential properties to the west; undeveloped woodland and wetlands to the south; and the Tewksbury/Wilmington Town Line and agricultural land to the east. The site comprises three source areas; a 50-acre landfill, an area of buried drums, and contaminated soils associated with the drum disposal area. These three source areas are located on what is known as the Rocco's Disposal Area. Waste disposal activities at the Sutton Brook Disposal Area can be traced back to at least 1957, when an area of the site was used as a "burning dump." This area was originally designated by the Tewksbury Board of Health as a temporary disposal area (landfill). In 1961, the temporary assignment was modified to require that the landfill on the site be operated as a sanitary landfill, accepting municipal refuse generated only in the Town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The assignment was not complied with, as the landfill accepted municipal, commercial, and industrial wastes from both inside and outside the Town of Tewksbury. The owners of the landfill received numerous citations from state and local officials for violating Massachusetts Sanitary Landfill Regulations. In 1966, the Town of Tewksbury was ordered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the Commonwealth) Commissioner of Public Health to operate the landfill using the sanitary landfill method. However, after 1966, there were documented occurrences of landfill burning, uncovered waste areas, the filling in of on-site wetlands, wastes disposed below the water table, and landfill slopes which exceeded operation plans. Due to these violations, the Commonwealth ordered the closure of the landfill in 1979. At the time of its closure, the landfill was accepting in excess of 250 tons of waste per day. Despite the closure order, landfill operations continued until 1982, when official landfill operations were suspended, yet waste acceptance continued through 1988. In 1983, a loam screening business began operation on the property. On August 11, 1983, during an inspection by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (MADEQE) (currently MADEP), underground burning was observed through fissures in the ground in the southern landfill lobe. During a subsequent inspection conducted by MA DEQE personnel on August 12, 1983, flames and smoke were no longer visible after heavy machinery had covered the fissures with soil. Subsequent investigations by Tewksbury Health Inspectors and MADEQE documented piles of demolition debris and soil on areas of the property, in some cases adjacent to and/or encroaching upon on-site wetland areas. This 50 acre landfill area has an estimated volume of approximately 1.9 million cubic yards. During the 1999 EPA Superfund Technical Assistance and Response Team (START) on-site reconnaissance, a number of erosional cuts, leachate seeps, and collapsed areas were observed in the cover material of the landfill. Sutton Brook (and associated wetlands) flows east to west through the property, dividing the landfill into northern and southern lobes. Additional wetlands areas are located south of the landfill and along the eastern and western portions of the property. Approximately 300 yards south of the landfill is an unnamed pond, used seasonally for ice skating. During the Winter of 2000-2001, EPA installed 14 groundwater monitoring wells, and obtained samples from 22 monitoring wells in the vicinity of the Rocco Landfill in order to get a current assessment of the condition of groundwater which may be leaving the site. In addition to the analytical samples, groundwater level measurements were taken at a total of 43 wells. The water level measurements are used to help establish and map groundwater flow directions. The groundwater analytical data suggest that there is contamination discharging to groundwater from the northern and southern lobes of the Rocco Landfill. It appears that the affected groundwater flows towards Sutton Brook from the south(from the southern lobe, and towards Sutton Brook from the north(from the northern lobe). A report containing the results of this effort has been sent to the site repositories listed below. In 2002 and 2003 EPA sampled and analyzed water from private wells near the site. These wells do not appear to have been affected by the site. In September 2007, EPA selected a comprehensive remedy for the site valued at approximately $30 million.

Hazardous Ranking Score

57 / 100

A score of 28.5 or higher qualifies a site for the Superfund National Priority List.

Regional Contact

Region 1
Phone: (888) 372-7341
Fax: (617) 918-0101

Outside New England:
(617) 918-1111

Contact Region



Site Inspection
Preliminary Assessment
Final Listing On NPL

Contaminants & Health Effects

      Endocrine Disrupter
      Reproductive Toxin
      Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


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