Olin Wilmington Facility

The Olin Corporation’s Wilmington facility sits on a 53 acre campus in northeastern Massachusetts. This plant is currently inactive, with the site having changed hands several times. The Wilmington plant was originally a chemical manufacturing site started in 1953 by National Polychemicals, Inc. Several years and owners later it was acquired by the Olin Corporation in 1980. During its time of operation, the plant primarily produced chemical blowing agents, antioxidants, stabilizers, and specialty chemicals for use in the plastic and rubber industries. The Olin Corporation still owns the property but closed down the factory in 1986.

Wastewater handling practices at the Olin Corporation’s Wilmington facility have led to a significant amount of environmental contamination. Up until 1970, all liquid waste was deposited into a number of unlined pits and man-made excavations at a section of the site known as the Lake Poly Liquid Waste Disposal Area. In 1970, an acid treatment and neutralization system was added to a new set of lined lagoons in an attempt to replace the unlined pits as a wastewater disposal area. Once the wastes were treated, the sites were dredged and sludge was deposited in the Calcium Sulfate Landfill on the southwest portion of the property. Despite these improvements, leftover liquid waste was still placed back into the unlined ditch system for holding until 1972.

These disposal practices have resulted in both surface and subsurface contamination not only at the Olin Wilmington facility, but off of the property in surrounding areas as well. Connected to this contamination was the closure of municipal drinking water supply wells. Specifically, contaminants were found in: site groundwater, in on-site soil, and in site- related surface water and sediments.  Some of the primary contaminants found at this site include ammonia, sodium, chromium, chloride, and sulfate. In addition, a probable carcinogen linked to the Olin Wilmington facility, N-nitrosodimethylamine, has been found in the water supply of 7,000 area residents.

In order to oversee investigative and remedial actions the Wilmington Environmental Restoration Committee has since hired Cambridge Environmental, Inc., with the town of Wilmington also appointing GeoInsight, Inc. to provide additional help. As of June 2007 cleanup was ongoing.  The previous material and waste handling practices of the Olin Corporation at this particular site make it likely that other hazardous materials were utilized as well.  Coupled with the age of the factory itself, use of asbestos to insulate plumbing and other machinery is probable. Today, standard government warnings, asbestos removal, and encapsulating practices have been put into place. However, that does little for former employees of plants such as the Wilmington one. Asbestos is a known material cause of the cancer mesothelioma. Mesothelioma maintains a high rate of development among employees who had prolonged exposure to asbestos, as well as possessing a long latency period.