The Industri-Plex Superfund Site is a former chemical and glue manufacturing facility. Industri-plex was used for manufacturing chemicals such as lead-arsenic insecticides, acetic acid, and sulfuric acid for local textile, leather, and paper manufacturing industries from 1853 to 1931. Chemicals manufactured by other industries at the site include phenol, benzene, and toluene. Industri-plex was also used to manufacture glue from raw animal hide and chrome-tanned hide wastes from 1934 to 1969. The by-products and residues from these industries caused the soils within the site to become contaminated with elevated levels of metals, such as arsenic, lead and chrome. During the 1970s, the site was developed for industrial use. Excavations uncovered and mixed industrial by-products and wastes accumulated over 130 years. During this period, residues from animal hide wastes used in the manufacture of glue were relocated on-site from buried pits to piles near swampy areas on the property. Many of the animal hide piles and lagoons on-site were leaching toxic metals into the environment. In the 1980's, the site contained streams and ponds, a warehouse and office buildings, remnant manufacturing buildings, and hide waste deposits buried on the site. Animal hide residues are found on approximately 20 acres of the site in four different piles. Portions of the animal hide piles sloughed off, causing the release of hydrogen sulfide gases to the atmosphere and toxic metals to surrounding wetlands. Residences are located within 1,000 feet of the site, and more than 34,000 people live within 3 miles of the site.
The groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including benzene and toluene, as well as ammonia and metals such as arsenic. The soil is contaminated with heavy metals including arsenic, chromium, and lead. Also, a pervasive "rotten egg" odor has been caused by hydrogen sulfide gas generated by the decay of the buried animal hides from glue manufacturing wastes.
The Industri-Plex NPL site in Woburn, Massachusetts, shown here in November 2009, with the Anderson Regional Transportation center in the background and site-associated wetlands in the foreground., Credit: Massachusetts Dept of Environmental Protection