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Updated 12-20-2023

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.

Our Commitment

Varian is committed to conducting response actions according to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, 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.

Figure 1 Site Map and Selected Treatment Areas

“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.

Environmental Cleanup Status Summary

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 Source Area – Thermal Treatment and Bioremediation

System construction began the first week of December 2023 and currently focuses on installing the outside heater wells

Design and planning efforts are ongoing for other aspects of the thermal treatment system

Tozer Road Groundwater – Permeable Reactive and Adsorptive Treatment Barrier

Additional pre-design investigation to provide high-resolution data will begin in January 2024

There will be some noise, temporary driveway blockages, and temporary lane closures as this drilling is conducted. Work is expected to conclude by the end of February

Design of the system will be completed and injections will begin by early summer 2024, with monitoring beginning in fall 2024

Stream A Groundwater Seeps – Permeable Adsorptive Barrier

Installation of the reactive core mats was completed in October 2023

Mats will be inspected monthly and following significant storms

Building 5 Source Area – Bioremediation

Additional pre-design investigation will begin in January 2024 following the completion of the public comment period and Varian’s response to comments

Bedrock Near Buildings 3 and 5 – Chemical Oxidation

Additional pre-design investigation will begin in January 2024 following the completion of the public comment period and Varian’s response to comments

PSL-10 Source Area – Soil Excavation with Subgrade Biogeochemical Reactor

Detailed design of the treatment will begin in January 2024 following the completion of the public comment period and Varian’s response to comments

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.

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. Responses to comments received will be submitted to MassDEP on January 10 and will be available on their website.