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Updated 11-15-2023

This website provides information about the environmental investigation and cleanup of the property located at 150 Sohier Road in Beverly, Massachusetts. Response actions for 150 Sohier Road are being conducted in accordance with Massachusetts General Law 21E and the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000). The site is listed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) as site number 3-0485, Varian-Microwave Div, and reports can be found in the MassDEP data portal under “Supporting Documents.” 

Site Overview

The site is located in northern Beverly at 150 Sohier Road and is currently owned and operated as a microwave and radar products manufacturing facility. The site occupies about 24 acres and contains four groups of buildings covering approximately 250,000 square feet.

The site has been used as an industrial facility since the early 1950s. Industrial solvents were released to the environment due to the chemical handling and disposal practices that were common at the time. These solvents, used primarily for surface treatment, cleaning, and degreasing operations, included trichloroethene (TCE), tetrachloroethene (also known as perchloroethene or PCE), and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA). Releases of these solvents occurred in three main areas – at Building 3, at Building 5, and in the open field area on the south side of the site.

TCE, PCE, and TCA solvents are heavier than water and have limited ability to dissolve in water (limited solubility). For that reason, they are often referred to as “dense nonaqueous phase liquids” (DNAPLs). TCE, PCE, and TCA are also commonly referred to as “chlorinated volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) due to their tendency to evaporate easily (volatility).

Our Commitment

Varian is committed to conducting response actions according to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, addressing additional data needs, engaging stakeholders, and keeping the community informed of progress. Click here to view CEO Chris Toth’s letter to the editor in the Salem News.

Map of former Varian site

Environmental Cleanup Status Summary

Since 1992: Environmental investigations and ongoing operation of treatment systems have been conducted for addressing contaminants present in site subsurface soils and groundwater, under regulatory oversight of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

January 2021: In response to community concerns about the site, MassDEP issued an evaluation of environmental investigations and treatment at the site. Major findings:

  • Analytical data confirm “no significant risk” to onsite workers or offsite residents
  • Extensive investigatory and remedial work has been conducted but data gaps justify further investigative work and remedial refinements

April 2021 to January 2022: The technical team conducted additional investigations to address the data gaps suggested by MassDEP in January 2021. This work included installation of additional test wells, and sampling of surface water and sediment in two streams. In addition, confirmation tests were conducted at 21 of the homes where MassDEP sampled indoor air in late 2020.

February 2022: MassDEP ended the site’s “remedy operation status,” and requested additional investigation and cleanup efforts.

February 2022 to present: Varian is working with MassDEP and community stakeholders to address concerns and complete work to fill remaining data gaps.

December 2022 to present: The Varian team has been completing the identification and analysis of potential cleanup alternatives for areas to be treated (as documented in the original and revised Phase III Remedial Action Plan reports); conducting public comment meetings, receiving and responding to public comments; and preparing for implementation of selected treatment approaches (as documented in the Partial Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan).

More information can be found on our Environmental page.

No Significant Risk

A regulatory term describing when a contaminant is either not detected or is below a level that would cause a defined level of increased risk to human health or the environment

Current Status

The Varian technical team is working with MassDEP to complete the following:

Conduct additional indoor air
(vapor intrusion) sampling.

Some chemicals can evaporate from groundwater and be carried up through the soil in vapors, entering buildings through cracks in foundations or other preferential pathways such as sump pumps or sewer lines; this process is known as vapor intrusion. Test results have not shown this to be a significant risk at off-property locations. As of August 2022, monitoring is ongoing at one residential and two nonresidential properties.

Sample stream water, sediment, and the spring in Stream A.

A groundwater plume can encounter surface water such as streams, through upwelling and springs. The dissolved chemicals can then affect surface water quality in the stream or sediments in the bottom of the stream. Evaluation of these test results have not shown a significant risk to people or the environment. Monitoring of the streams continues on a semi-annual basis.

Install additional wells and conduct sampling in multiple locations (at 150 Sohier Road and downhill or downgradient).

Some dissolved chemicals move with groundwater, forming a groundwater plume below and downgradient of the site. Chemical migration in groundwater is slower than the movement of groundwater. Therefore, the ability of a chemical plume to move is limited. Groundwater is not used as a drinking water source. As of August 2022, additional monitoring wells are being installed onsite for additional source characterization and delineation; monitoring of the groundwater plume is also ongoing semi-annually.

Evaluate remediation techniques to accelerate the cleanup of residual dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) in source areas.

Some chemicals, including TCE, PCE, and TCA solvents, sink down through the soil and groundwater until reaching an impermeable layer (e.g., clay) or bedrock, where they may remain in a concentrated area or sink into fractures in the bedrock. People are not directly exposed to the DNAPL and therefore not at risk. However, DNAPL can continue to feed the groundwater plume and limit cleanup effectiveness if not removed to the extent feasible. As of August 2022, this evaluation is ongoing as part of the upcoming Phase III Remedial Action Plan.

More information can be found on our Environmental page.

Next Steps

A Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan, Part 2 was submitted to MassDEP on 9/20/23 and is available here for review. This document presents the plans for implementation of the selected remedial action alternatives for the Building 5 overburden source area and the bedrock area between Buildings 3 and 5.

A Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan, Part 3 was submitted to MassDEP on 11/7/23 and is available here. This document presents the plans for the implementation of the selected remedial action alternative for the PSL-10 (open field) source area.

A public meeting was held at Beverly Middle School on 11/14/23 at 7:00 p.m., followed by a public comment period 11/15-12/11 on these two documents.

More information on public involvement opportunities and how to be included on the site mailing list can be found on our Public Involvement page.