EPA announces completion of hazardous waste cleanup at former Stamina Mills office

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed a hazardous waste cleanup at the former Stamina Mills office site on School Street, according to a recent release from the agency.

The parcel is one piece of the Stamina Mills Superfund Site, which has undergone a larger ongoing cleanup and redevelopment project.

The focus of the completed clean-up was an area holding a structure that once served as the mill’s office, known to have asbestos containing material, in a state of disrepair and previously deemed unsafe to enter. After part of the roof collapsed into the building, there was an increased likelihood that asbestos fibers could be released into the environment, according to the EPA.

The immediate threat to public health reportedly led the agency to begin cleaning up the site last fall.

“EPA’s work at the Stamina Mills Office Building helped to protect people, nearby homes and businesses by eliminating risks posed by asbestos that was contained in the building which could have become airborne,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. “This successful project is a testament to our effective collaboration with our partners at RIDEM and the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.”

To address the continued release of asbestos into the environment, EPA demolished the former Mill Office Building. Additional clean-up actions included removal of trees, vegetation, and debris; razing the building; transporting and disposing of ACM building debris to an EPA-approved off-site disposal facility, and backfilling excavated areas. During EPA’s remediation activity, protective measures were reportedly taken to control dust, conduct air monitoring, and to prevent runoff of water used during the remediation from impacting nearby residential and commercial properties and the nearby Branch River.

The larger five-acre site once held a textile mill that began operations in the early 1900s, but was contaminated by a chemical spill in 1969. In 1975, the mill closed, and a fire destroyed the manufacturing complex in 1977, leaving it vacant and unused except for the former mill office building, which was once connected to the complex via a bridge.

Before the office was demolished, EPA worked in partnership with the Rhode Island Preservation and Heritage Commission to document and preserve the historical aspects of the building.

Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski thanked the agency for, “the expediency, thoroughness, and professionalism that the Environmental Protection Agency exhibited throughout the mitigation process of this hazardous site.”

“Slatersville is America’s first planned Industrialized Mill Village and is recognized on the National Historic Register,” Zwolenski said. “Residents, businesses, and tourists traveling to Slatersville were visually assaulted by the remnants of the dilapidated and dangerous site that was once a viable economic engine known as Stamina Mill.”

Zwolenski also thanked the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for working in conjunction with EPA to ensure the safety of all motorists traveling through Slatersville during the clean up.

“Partnerships drive effective government responses, and our strong partnership with EPA led to this successful outcome,” said Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Acting Director Terry Gray. “At the local level, the town of North Smithfield had major concerns about the safety of the building abandoned at the Stamina Mills Superfund site. EPA stepped up and did the hard work of demolishing, decontaminating, and cleaning up this blighted property, thus removing the unsafe conditions in the community.”

More information on EPA’s cleanup activity at the Stamina Mills Superfund Site and ongoing site monitoring can be found at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/stamina.

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