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I-Team: State Will Be Testing For Contaminated Water In Sherborn

SHERBORN (CBS) - A chemical plant that has been a problem for years is finally shutting down, but the damage may already be done. The I-Team first highlighted the problems at the General Chemical plant in Framingham two years ago.

In May of 2010, inspectors found inside the hazardous waste plant among other things, leaking drums, strange colored spills and contaminated water flushed outside.

Now the I-Team has learned there are very serious concerns about possible contamination of drinking water wells in Sherborn.

Neighborhood groups in Framingham are cheering the news that the hazardous waste facility will finally be closing its doors this month.

Kristen Nason and dozens like her have worked for years to get General Chemical shut down.

Shortsleeve: So what is the reaction from your group?

Nason: "We are very happy. We have fought long and hard but we also want to ensure clean up!"

General Chemical, the hazardous waste storage and disposal company, sits right next to an elementary school.

The I-Team told you two years ago about serious ongoing violations at the company including the discharge of contaminated of water just outside its building a few feet from the school. They were fined $29,000 by the state.

Ethan Maascoop is the Framingham Health Director. He has been worried for years about health risks posed by the hazardous materials and frustrated by what he says were an unresponsive corporation.

Maascoop: "I am thrilled that we have reached this point!"

General Chemical is legally responsible for cleaning up decade's old contaminated ground water in the south Framingham neighborhood but documents obtained by the I-Team suggest a massive amount of contamination has already left the site and needs to be tracked.

Those documents say there are immediate potential risks to the water wells in the town of Sherborn.

The I-Team spoke to the Water Commissioner in the town of Sherborn. He tells the I-Team there are 1,400 drinking water wells in town and that he expects 50 of them to be tested by state environmental officials for possible contamination in the coming months.

The I-Team has learned the plume of ground water contamination is moving from the south Framingham site towards the Prospect Street neighborhood in Sherborn.

Maascoop: "Yes, that is our certain areas of Sherborn...yes that is our concern."

The I-Team called the Sherborn interim town administrator. He did not return our calls. We also called the President of General Chemical. He also did not return our call.

General Chemical says it will no longer be accepting hazardous waste as of the last day of this month.

The State Department of Environmental Protection tells the I-Team that General Chemical has put aside $1.5 million to begin the ground water cleanup. However Framingham town officials say it will actually cost tens of millions of dollars.

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