Finally, the Malden River Gets Friended…

By Rusty Russell

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For more than a century, a ribbon of shallow water has connected the Mystic River to downtown Malden.  That riparian finger, straightened by the demands of the heavy industry that once lined its shores – tanneries, rubber works, aircraft engine manufacturers, chemical plants, coal tar refiners – has long given rise to minor local humor.  Asked for directions to the Malden River, a city resident is heard to reply: “I didn’t even know Malden had a river – where did it go?”

But this sad comedy is itself becoming history, now that the Friends of the Malden River is under full sail.  This volunteer organization, which turns three this fall, is helping to put the Malden River back onto the map – geographic and political.  The Friends came into being as a result of pent-up local interest in preserving, protecting and enjoying the two-mile long portion of the river that hasn’t been culverted.  Propelled and steered by MyRWA, with help from a Tufts graduate-student Practicum in spring 2013, FoMR has become a full-fledged citizens advocacy group that’s developed a full complement of strategies designed to ensure that the Malden River is not forgotten again.

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And that’s great news.  The tri-city area surrounding the Malden – which had meandered between Medford and Everett before being dredged into an industrial canal more than a hundred years ago – is facing a barrage of changes that are bound to affect both the ecological health of the river and its availability as a public recreational and conservation resource.  Particularly critical is new development along its banks, the construction of segments of a much-needed multi-use pathway that it is hoped eventually will embrace the entire riverbank, a proposed minor league baseball stadium at the river’s “headwaters” (that is, the point just south of downtown Malden where it emerges after more than two miles of underground travel starting at Ell Pond in Melrose), the prime, undeveloped former GE site in Everett, and – the gorilla in the room – the proposed Wynn casino, which is to be constructed just below the Amelia Earhart Dam, right around the corner from the mouth of the Malden.  The Wynn casino, once built (as most expect it to be), will have a profound and long-lasting impact on economic development in the area around the Malden River, particularly on the Everett side.

Enter the river’s new Friends.  FoMR, as it’s known acronymically, meets nearly every month, and has attracted dozens to its gatherings and events.  The most recent one, which drew nearly 50 local residents of all ages and filled the Maccario Room at the Malden Public Library, engaged in a close review of a draft Public Involvement Plan (a “PIP”) presenting ways in which Honeywell International, a former owner of a contaminated industrial parcel at 378 Commercial Street in Malden, plans to clean up the site, while protecting the public and its river.  The Friends also have met with key municipal and state officials from the three cities, and have participated in a public forum and training session coordinated by the nonprofit Toxics Action Center.  This training is helping to guide the Friends’ future initiatives.  Last spring, a second Tufts graduate student team researched two key questions: the extent to which river protection increases neighboring property values, and how to develop an initial methodology to study potential health risk posed by contaminated river sediments.   Six graduate and undergraduates from MIT also completed projects looking at aspects of the river.

The big challenge going forward is to maintain public awareness of and interest in the Malden River, while advancing central goals: engaging political actors at all levels, addressing stormwater runoff and leaking sewer pipes, holding off inconsistent development plans, and, perhaps most important, addressing the issue of the contaminated river bed.  Here, issues of risk and remediation will need focused attention over many years.

But beyond this lies something even more vital – developing a vision of the kind of resource the Malden River could be for the people who live in Everett, Malden and Medford – the ones who used to say “Malden has a river?  I had no idea.”


Greening Malden & Everett to Improve the Malden River

As part of the Urban Waters Malden River Partnership, MyRWA (Mystic River Watershed Association) is hosting two public meetings to gather community insight and input on where to implement green infrastructure, such as a rain garden. All are welcome to attend these meetings to learn more about the project and share their community knowledge!

Community Charrette: Greening Malden & Everett to Improve the River
Tuesday, August 18, 7:00 p.m.
Malden Senior Center auditorium, 7 Washington St, Malden, MA 02148

Community Charrette: Greening Medford to Improve the River
Wednesday, August 26, 6:00 p.m.
Andrews Middle School, 3000 Mystic Valley Pkwy, Medford, MA 02155

Collecting comments for the Final Public Involvement Plan: FoMR Meeting July 21

Please attend our final meeting before submitting our comments to Honeywell, Inc. and Kerry Tull, LSP.

We will meet at the Cambridge Health Alliance, 195 Canal Street, Malden in the Community Conference Room.  The meeting date is Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 – 8:00PM.   Look for the signs after entering the main entrance!  Parking is a breeze!  We will offer light refreshments.

We will be finalizing our comments to be submitted to Honeywell, Inc. and Kerry Tull.

Please contact to receive a draft of our comments based on the PIP presented to the Malden Public at the library on June 4, 2015.

The draft PIP is available on the Department of Environmental Protection website:

Please contact us if you have any comments that you would like to submit, yet cannot attend the July 21 meeting.  The comment submission deadline is July 31, 2015.

Friends of the Malden River rally for a clean up

Friends of the Malden River rally for a clean up

Originally posted on Neighborhood View:

calm waters of MaldenOn June 4, over 60 residents and city officials of the tri-city area came to the Macarrio Room of the Malden Public Library to show their support for the Malden River.  The Friends of Malden River petitioned Honeywell Inc. to inform the public of their corporate history (through Allied Chemical and Dye) with the river, their recent cleanup work, and their future intentions for 378 Commercial St. in Malden.

Why summon Honeywell to Malden?

EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association, comments that Honeywell doesn’t own the property: “But … owns the problem.”

The Friends of the Malden River, a grassroots community advocacy group, utilized Massachusetts laws in order to create transparency in regards to toxic chemical monitoring for Honeywell’s site, 378 Commercial St.  This location has been dubbed as one of the most contaminated site on the Malden River.  Honeywell, Inc. is obligated by the…

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The draft PIP has been posted on the MassDEP website

You can access the draft PIP on the MassDEP website by clicking onto this link:

You can also look back into the history of the 378 Commercial Street site via past documents. Remember the meeting is June 4th at the Malden Public Library: 6:30-8:00. No homework required. Thank you in advance for coming. Let us show solidarity for the Malden River, Public Health, and our future!

Malden River is Beyond Dirty Water!

By Karen Buck, Malden Resident and Friend of the Malden River

The Friends of Malden River (FoMR) is changing the tune of Malden River!  We hear the rhetoric of a polluted river, but do we have to accept this Dirty Water as our anthem?  We say “No” and Massachusetts Laws support our efforts.

Please come and support public health and our river! Update:  Honeywell International, Inc. has responded timely to the petition signed by Malden residents.  This plan will be presented to the citizens on June 4th at the Malden Public Library (Maccario Room) at 6:30PM.   All documents pertaining to the 378 Commercial Street site will be sent to the library for citizen viewing prior to the meeting.

The Mass Department of Environmental Protection protocols enable citizens’ involvement through a prescribed method known as a Public Involvement Plan (PIP).   Ten local residents and/or officials potentially affected by a contaminated site can petition the state to designate the property as a (PIP) site.  A PIP gives the community key information it needs in order to understand and evaluate the remediation process.  A PIP must provide a local information repository, a site mailing list, and opportunities for individuals to comment on site assessment and cleanup efforts, including the state’s responses to those comments.  A PIP also includes input from a community meeting.  As a result, its scope can go beyond the minimum required by law.

FoMR is targeting one of the most contaminated sites on the Malden River (378 Commercial Street).  Historic industrial operations have left subsurface soil and groundwater at the Site contaminated with metals and petroleum constituents.

A Release Abatement Measure (RAM) was initiated in 2007, which allowed the removal of several tons of contaminated soil.  Following the soil removal, the site was closed with a Temporary Solution.  Some of the contaminated soil could not be accessed because it is under existing buildings.  It wouldn’t be cost effective to demolish these buildings if the covered contaminated soil posed no risk to workers or visitors to the Site.  Therefore a Temporary Solution was adequate.

Also, in 2007, naphthalene (a product of coal tar manufacturing), a possible carcinogen (a member of FoMR chimed in, “think of mothballs”) was detected at a very high concentration of 1,400 µg/L in a groundwater monitoring well (RIZ-8) which is located very close to the Malden River.  DEP requires that such a site be evaluated every 5 years to determine whether a permanent remediation of its contaminated state is possible.  Again, it was found that the pavement was intact and therefor does not impose risk to above ground use.

In 2012, during the mandated reevaluation, a concentration of 360 µg/L of naphthalene was detected in groundwater from the same monitoring well (RIZ-8).  This poses a question:  Where did the naphthalene leach?  FoMR is striving towards a complete remedial plan and a permanent solution to this site.  This remediation plan can be a model for other contaminated sites on the Malden River.

The law allows that the company can wait five years for a reevaluation of sampling unless community members file a petition asking that the designation of the site becomes a Public Involvement Plan (PIP) site.  Once the petition is received, the owners of the site must acknowledge it within 20 days and then write a draft PIP within 60 days which is presented at a public meeting.  The public has 20 days after the meeting to review and suggest changes to the PIP.  The final PIP must be completed and publicized within 30 days of the close of the comment period.  The PIP is implemented throughout the cleanup process.

Let’s sing a different tune:  Take Me to the River!

For more information regarding this process, visit:
For updates, you may contact the Friends of Malden River: