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Environmental Cleanup of 150 Sohier Road
Beverly Massachusetts

Updated 7-2-2024

This website provides information about the environmental cleanup of the property located at 150 Sohier Road in Beverly, Massachusetts. Investigation and treatment of the site is 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 3-0000485, Varian-Microwave Div., and reports can be found in the MassDEP data portal under “Supporting Documents.” 

Varian Begins New Phase of Environmental Cleanup

In the past two years, environmental investigations and cleanup of the former Varian site have progressed rapidly. Prior investigations and treatment have been conducted at the site since the 1990s. These efforts were renewed and enhanced starting in 2021. Since then, the Varian project team has worked with the community and MassDEP to conduct additional investigations of indoor air, surface water and sediment, groundwater, soil, and bedrock. An updated risk assessment has been completed based on the additional data.

The risk assessment concluded that site contaminants pose no “significant risk” for local residents and current workers at the former Varian property, with the existing soil vapor treatment systems operating on the property.

Additional treatment is required under state cleanup laws to prevent potential future risk and to limit the future migration of contaminants. In 2022 and 2023, the project team identified and selected updated treatment alternatives for six areas, prepared detailed implementation plans, and has begun installing these systems.

“No Significant Risk” is a regulatory term based on site data. It describes when a contaminant is not present or exists below a level that would cause a defined level of increased risk to human health or the environment.

Figure 1 Site Map and Selected Treatment Areas

Public Outreach

The Final Immediate Response Action (IRA) Plan was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) on June 20. The Final IRA Plan describes the proposed approach for the safe removal of a limited area of buried asbestos-containing debris encountered during construction outside Building 3. The IRA Plan can be viewed at the Beverly Public Library Reference Desk or online. MassDEP’s approval of the plan was received on June 27.

A public informational meeting summarizing the status of project work will be held on September 18, 2024; more information will be forthcoming.

As noted below, drilling associated with the Tozer Road and bedrock designs is scheduled to begin later in July, along with a video inspection of the historical drainpipe near the seep.

Treatment System Progress

Environmental cleanup is focused on six project areas (figure 1) and summarized below. More information about cleanup progress can be found on our Environmental page.

Building 3 Thermal Treatment

Status: The selected remedy – thermal treatment – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 1) in June 2023. Well field design and contracting were completed in the fall. Drilling of thermal wells outside Building 3 began in December 2023.

Current and upcoming work: Completion of thermal well drilling outside of Building 3 was pending MassDEP approval of the plan to remove asbestos-containing debris. Approval was received on June 27 and the work is expected to be completed later in July. The area where indoor drilling will take place is being prepared (e.g., utility identification, air monitoring program, installation of access door, sealing, etc.). Interior well drilling is expected to begin later in July or August.

Tozer Road Groundwater Treatment Barrier

Status: The selected remedy – a groundwater treatment barrier – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 1) in June 2023. Planning and contracting for the pre-design investigation was completed in the fall. The pre-design investigation includes a membrane interface probe-hydraulic profiling tool (MiPHT) investigation, which will provide additional high-resolution data to help refine the treatment barrier design.

Current and upcoming work: Drilling with soil and groundwater sampling will be completed in July and August to support the final design of the barrier. Weekend drilling work is required at the educational center property at 28 Tozer Rd to prevent disruption to the students. The schedule for barrier installation will be finalized once the investigations are complete.

Stream A Granular Activated Carbon Adsorptive Barrier

Status: The selected remedy – a granular activated carbon adsorptive barrier – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 1) in June 2023. The carbon mats were installed in October 2023.

Current and upcoming work: Regular inspection of the treatment mats has continued as scheduled. A historical drainpipe was encountered during the installation of the adsorptive barrier. The adsorptive barrier covers the drainpipe and treats the discharge. Video inspection of the drainpipe was tentatively rescheduled from June to July 15. A robocall notification will be sent to the local neighborhood before the work starts.

PSL-10 Subgrade Biogeochemical Reactor

Status: The selected remedy – a subgrade biogeochemical reactor – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 3) and at a public meeting in November 2023, with completion of the public comment period (including responses to comments) in January 2024.

Current and upcoming work: System design is complete. Contracting for the installation of the remedy is ongoing and installation of the system is expected to begin in July 2024.

Building 5 Bioremediation

Status: The selected remedy – bioremediation – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 2) and at a public meeting in November 2023, with completion of the public comment period in January 2024.

Current and upcoming work: The pre-design investigation plan is complete and contracting for the drilling is ongoing. Varian is planning to use pressure injection beneath the building to increase the influence of the treatment. A structural evaluation of the building will be completed in the summer to confirm that the pressure injection will not impact the active facility building. Drilling and treatment are expected to be completed this fall following the structural evaluation. Treatment will include fans of wells beneath Building 5.

Bedrock In Situ Chemical Oxidation

Status: The selected remedy – in situ chemical oxidation – was presented in the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan (Part 2) and at a public meeting in November 2023, with completion of the public comment period in January 2024.

Current and upcoming work: The pre-design investigation plan and contracting for the drilling are complete. Drilling is scheduled to begin in July. The investigation will include the installation of bedrock wells and testing to confirm connections in bedrock fractures.

Site-Wide Sampling

Results from site-wide groundwater testing and indoor air sampling conducted in May and June 2024 will be documented in the next status report due in August 2024.

Site History and Overview

The former Varian Facility, located at 150 Sohier Road, is currently owned by another firm and operated as an active manufacturing facility for microwave and radar products.

The 150 Sohier Road property 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, before more strict environmental regulations were enacted. These solvents, used primarily for surface treatment, cleaning, and degreasing operations, included trichloroethene (TCE), perchloroethene (PCE), and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA). Releases of these solvents occurred in three main areas: the Building 3 area, the Building 5 area, and an open field known as PSL-10.

TCE, PCE, and TCA are heavier than water and have limited ability to dissolve in water. For that reason, they are often referred to as “dense nonaqueous phase liquids” (DNAPLs). They also tend to evaporate easily and are referred to as volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

Opportunities for Public Involvement

Meetings presentations, videos, posters, the most recent fact sheet, and information about how you can learn more can be found on our Public Involvement page.

The next public meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2024 at the Beverly Middle School Library.

Our Commitment

Varian is committed to conducting response actions according to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, engaging stakeholders, and keeping the community informed of progress.

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