Communities in Action

Framingham, MA: Residents work to shut down Massachusetts' most toxic site:
The Framingham community group, FACES, takes on General Chemical

When Sidney and Junia Faust moved into South Framingham a few years ago, they knew something was not right in their neighborhood. They first heard stories, then learned the facts about their troubling and toxic neighbor: General Chemical. General Chemical operates one of the largest hazardous waste transfer stations in Massachusetts. What they learned about General Chemical’s abysmal track record was shocking—and ultimately made them spring into action. 

General Chemical has been fined numerous times by the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to safely handle its chemicals and hazardous waste. In the 1960s, a massive chemical spill led to an underground plume of toxins that is still spreading today. The plume has contaminated the surrounding neighborhood and forced families to leave their homes. Two years ago, General Chemical was caught pumping chemical-laced water from one of their flooded basements into the nearby neighborhood. Frighteningly, not only does General Chemical operate in the middle of a residential area, but it’s also adjacent to the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and next to the Sudbury Aquifer, which provides a backup drinking water supply to the city of Boston.

Sidney and Junia knew that they needed to take action.  They formed FACES, the Framingham Action Coalition for Environmental Safety, and started knocking on doors to get their neighbors involved.  At first, not many people knew about the threat posed by General Chemical. The South Framingham neighborhoods where General Chemical operates are made up of largely Brazilian immigrant families, many of whom believed the U.S. government would never allow a company to get away with such actions. But as information spread through the media, and through the hard work of FACES members, the effort grew.

Today, FACES is made up of more than 50 individuals and thirteen supporting organizations, including three local churches, the Framingham Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation and the Brazilian Alliance.