Massachusetts Climate Change and Hazardous Waste Site Screening

Katelyn Tarrio
Posted on: 2/26/2020 - Updated on: 3/18/2022

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Communities should expect resilient and sustainable hazardous waste site cleanup, but climate change is challenging current remediation approaches. This research is a first step in informing community leaders, state agencies and remediation managers of the potential vulnerabilities of Massachusetts’s hazardous waste sites to climate change-related flooding and inundation. A simple model was developed and GIS tools were used to evaluate the potential vulnerability of a subset of 6,001 high-interest Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) listed sites based on their locations relative to FEMA flood hazard map zones, NOAA hurricane surge zones, NOAA sea level rise projections, remediation status, and key community and environmental parameters. 2,388 sites may be exposed to flooding or inundation because they are located within the FEMA 100 year flood risk zones (1% annual chance of flooding), Category 1 or 2 hurricane surge zones, or future one-foot sea level rise inundation zones. When including site sensitivity parameters based on remediation status, 1,707 of these sites showed potentially moderate or high site vulnerability (site vulnerability refactor scores greater than 1.66). When community and environmental sensitivity parameters are added, 2,299 sites showed potentially moderate or high overall vulnerability (overall vulnerability refactor scores greater than 1.66). The user is encouraged to examine results on a site-by-site basis, include local knowledge wherever possible to better understand why a site and adjacent community and environment may be vulnerable, and explore the factors that lead to this vulnerability in order to establish more resilient and sustainable remediation solutions.