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NY Times Company Agrees to Pay for Cleanup

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

 

The New York Times Company announced that they have agreed to pay for cleanup costs associated with contamination left at the former location of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette at 18-20 Franklin Street.

The announcement comes just days after a GoLocalWorcester investigative report that unveiled that the property was a brownsfield site, despite claims by the publisher that it was not.  The non-profit Worcester Business Development Corporation, which bought the property, is receiving government funds to pay for the cleanup of the former newspaper headquarters.

Katy Donahue, the Telegram & Gazette’s Marketing Manager said that the company is not commenting on the specifics of the cleanup. GoLocal will continue to request the specific costs given for the cleanup and will be seeking additional comments.

Costly Cleanup

The location was left with at least $1.1 million in cleanup costs due to extensive contamination from lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials.

The building was sold for $300,000 last fall to New Garden Park, a subsidiary of the Worcester Business Development Corporation.

In the GoLocal investivagive piece, it was unveiled that before the sale, Telegram and Gazette publisher Bruce Gaultney publicly promised that the building was “not a brownfield,” yet the company applied for and was awarded funding for brownfield cleanup. The site has been allotted $200,000 in brownfield cleanup grant funding directly from the EPA and another $200,000 from the Worcester Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund.

Contamination Concerns

The contamination at the site has a local union concerned about safety to workers on site. Michael Callahan of Boston Newspaper Printing Pressmen's Union Local No. 3 said he had made calls about the matter.

“In any case of contamination, the health risks will depend on exposure,” said Taryn Hallweaver of Toxics Actions Center, a non-profit that works at the local level to clean up pollution in communities. “This building was probably more of a problem with people working all day and all night long, as opposed to being abandoned. There may be a higher risk.”

Hallweaver has seen many examples of brownfield clean up locally and that the EPA has seen great success in cleaning up brownfields in many places.

“It’s hard for me to believe that New Garden Park didn’t know about the contamination,” Hallweaver said. “Most times when a private businesses or individuals suspect a site to be contaminated, they check with the EPA, especially when purchasing a larger property. The Telegram promised it wasn’t, but… you have to do due diligence.”

Hallweaver said that often, this is the case with larger, multi-national businesses.

“In any case of redevelopment when it comes to a contaminated site, it’s very important to make sure that the community is actively engaged in the process and the cleaning up that property,” she said. “I think it definitely depends on the owner of the property. If you’re looking at a large, multi-national business that deals with chemicals, then leaves town and has no regard for the health effects they leave behind – that’s more common.”

 

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