Bliss Corner groundwater testing results reveal no human health hazards

Jul 16, 2019

Groundwater samples from within the Bliss Corner neighborhood have revealed there is no threat to human health. 

On July 11, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection released its latest report on its investigation into historic dumping in the neighborhood. 

As part of the investigation, monitoring wells were installed along streets in the neighborhood, and groundwater samples were taken from 15 of the 18 wells. The testing revealed there is no danger to drinking water in the neighborhood. 

Six of the samples had no traces of contaminants. Six samples did test positive for contaminants, but at rates below standards. 

While most of the neighborhood is serviced by the town’s water supply, there are four private wells in the neighborhood. The state considers a 500-foot buffer zone around those wells to be a “current drinking water source” with more strict limits on contaminants. 

Two samples did test positive for contaminants exceeding this standard — one on Sharp Street contained benzene and one on McCabe Street contained pentachlorophenol. Both, however, are located outside of the drinking water buffer zone. 

A sample on East Wordell Street within the well buffer zone did test positive for lead. However, the result was within the state standard for drinking water, but above a standard applied to all groundwater in the state to protect the environment. According to the report, this does not represent a human health risk.

In the soil samples, which were released last month, 14 of 18 locations tested positive for contaminants, but only exceeded standards for residential areas in four sampling locations: two on McCabe Street, one on East Wordell Street, and another on Donald Street. 

Using this data, state officials are now confident the waste material is "shallow and fairly narrow across the study area, ranging from a few inches below the ground surface to approximately 2 feet in depth." 

It follows a months-long effort to determine the extent and severity of historic dumping activity in the neighborhood prior to its construction, after construction activity on Kraseman and McCabe streets unearthed toxic chemicals and evidence of dumping. 

In the meantime, the state is now working with homeowners to test soil. The state has mailed access agreements to certain homes it plans to test due to the properties’ proximity to the Kraseman and McCabe sites. The state is also hearing from residents who would like their properties tested, but there is no schedule in place to do so at this time. 

The state will continue monitoring groundwater on East Wordell Street where the lead was detected, and the search for people or entities who may have been responsible for the dumping is also in progress. 

 A public meeting is being scheduled for the late summer to share more updates about the progress of the investigation. For more information, visit MassDEP’s website, or contact Lori Williamson at (508) 946-2803, or via email at