$671,000 grant for Eco-Machine targets Fisherville Mill site water.


Byline: Donna Boynton

GRAFTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the town a $671,000 grant to create an "ecological machine" to treat stormwater and riverwater on the Blackstone River at the Fisherville Mill site.

The Blackstone River Integrated Water Quality Improvement Project, as it is formally called, will use a solar- or wind-powered Eco-Machine, a trademarked system created by Woods Hole scientist John Todd. The Eco-Machine is more like a botanical garden than an industrial treatment plant in that it is an artificial wetland that uses a series of organisms that break down the canal water and discharge the treated water back into the canal.

The Eco-Machine, which will be built on the peninsula just upstream from the Fisherville Mill site, is the first of its kind in Massachusetts. There are only three other similar facilities in the United States that treat municipal and industrial wastewaters - in Providence, Frederick, Md., and South Burlington, Vt., according to the EPA.

"This project will serve as a national model for the conversion and reuse of environmentally impaired industrial infrastructure, such as mill ponds and industrial canals," Dale Kemery, a spokesman for EPA, wrote in an e-mail. "This project is innovative not only for the technologies it employs, but also for the idea of treating and replacing surface water and for incorporating environmental education."

The EPA grant builds upon a $1.2 million grant from the state for a pilot brownfields remediation program at the Fisherville Mill site, said Steve Bishop, town planner.

The mill was destroyed by fire in 1999, and the site has been called one of the most toxic in Massachusetts. The primary contaminant was trichloralethylene or TCE, a cleaning solvent used in manufacturing in the mill. The contaminants were pulled closer to nearby water supplies in efforts to combat the massive fire.

The site, owned by Fisherville Redevelopment LLC, has undergone a massive cleanup in the past 10 years, and heating oil is the last major contaminant to be removed from the site, Mr. Bishop said. The work will be done in the fall using butane injections, a fairly new technology.

The Fisherville site has been capped, which...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT