No contamination on Wilton disposal site


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 03-31-2023 9:00 AM

After review by both the state Department of Environmental Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it has been determined that a potential brownfield site in Wilton isn’t a source of contamination.

Brownfields are sites with the potential for redevelopment, but which may contain hazardous materials from previous uses, such as industrial business. The site, located on Forest Road behind the Wilton Police Department, is commonly known as the Abbott Memorial Trust site, and is known to have drums of sodium cyanide and furnace boxes buried on it, encased in concrete. The Abbott Machine Company, a manufacturer who owned the land in the 1960s, disposed of the sodium cyanide solution salts on the property.

In 2021, the Wilton Economic Development Team assisted the town in obtaining a grant from the NHDES to do an assessment on the site to determine if there was any source of contamination, particularly due to the site’s close proximity to the Souhegan River and Stony Brook.

NHDES completed its assessment in October 2021, and requested the assistance of the EPA for further analysis to determine if there were any actions that needed to be taken. The EPA published its final report on the investigation in February, and ultimately concluded that there isn’t any contamination leaks in the area from the sodium cyanide.

“The surface water and soil analysis determined that none of the samples exceeded NH DES Soil Remediation Standards or the EPA Removal Management Levels for Residential or Industrial Soil for cyanide,” the EPA report reads. “At this time, there are no known threats to public health or welfare of the United States or the environment. If the suspected vault is disturbed by some other factor, e.g. construction in the immediate area, earthquake or other act of God, a reassessment may be necessary.”

The town became interested in the site in part due to an exploration by the Economic Development Team into developing the area along the river for recreation and to attract visitors through installations such as a river walk, a concert pavilion, historical artifacts and informational signs.

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The investigation discovered that the ownership of the small lot is in question. The site is officially owned by the E.J. Abbott Memorial Trust, but the trust was dissolved years ago without the land being conveyed to another owner, and no taxes have been paid on it since the dissolution. With no official owner to request access from, the EPA had to seek an ex parte warrant from the court system, and gained access to the property for the purpose of assessment for 180 days.

While the town has the option to take ownership of the land due to the back taxes owed, it would also take on the potential liability for any environmental hazards caused by the buried cyanide.

“For these reasons, along with the fact that the site is at a noisy, busy intersection, the Wilton Economic Development Team has shifted the site for a potential Riverwalk pavilion to the back of the police parking lot, adjacent to the end of the Riverwalk,” Town Administrator Nick Germain stated on the town’s website.

Ashley Saari can be reached at  603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.