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Army Materials Technology Laboratory (MTL)
Watertown Arsenal

The U.S. Army Materials Technology Laboratory (MTL) is a 47 acre facility, part of what was originally the Watertown Arsenal, established in 1816. MTL is in Watertown, Massachusetts, approximately 5 miles west of Boston. In October 1988, Congress recommended the closure of the facility.

The MTL facility, which closed September 30, 1995, is approximately 47 acres with 14 buildings and associated structures. Three of these buildings were used for military housing. In 1968, approximately 55 acres were sold to the Town of Watertown. Of the 47.5 acres retained by the Army, 36.5 acres became the Army Materials and Mechanical Research Center (AMMRC). In 1985, AMMRC became MTL. The current mission of MTL includes testing material; developing weapons, ammunition, and lightweight armor; and manufacturing testing technology.

ARL-Watertown was formerly the Materiels Technology Laboratory (MTL) and the Materiel and Mechanics Research Center. The NRC licensed MTL to research and develop alloys and to explore military applications of DU. It was authorized to smelt, machine, cut and cast DU when developing alloys and shapes. MTL's mission ended in the late 1980s. ARL-Watertown was closed as part of BRAC and was licensed to decontaminate and decommission its facilities and to store radioactive material until disposal. The cost for decontaminating and decommissioning ARL-Watertown was 72 million dollars. ARL-Watertown asked USACHPPM to verify decontamination before NRC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and EPA conduct the final survey. ARL-Watertown must assure these regulators of decontamination before NRC will terminate the license.

The Watertown Arsenal, which was founded in 1816, is in the southeastern portion of the community. Watertown is a densely populated urban area of roughly 33,000 people, covering approximately 4 square miles. The Arsenal facility has gone through numerous phases of activity throughout its nearly 200 years of operation. Peak activity was just after World War II, at which time the site encompassed 131 acres with 53 buildings and structures.

The facility continued to expand and occupied 131 acres and employed 10,000 people at the end of World War II. The site was used for small arms maintenance and ordnance supplies; ammunition and pyrotechnics production; paint, lubricant, and cartridge testing and experimentation; manufacture of guns and cartridges; and development of advanced metallurgical processes used in the casting, welding, and machining of artillery pieces. A research nuclear reactor was used for molecular and atomic structure research activities from 1960 to 1970. Although the reactor was deactivated in 1970, it is currently being decommissioned under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

An operational phaseout of the Arsenal began in 1967 and much of the property was sold at that time. (4) The Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) portion of the former Arsenal was sold to the Watertown Redevelopment Authority in 1968. The 59 acre FUDS parcel was developed and includes the Arsenal Mall, Ann & Hope department store, Harvard Community Health Plan offices, apartments, condominiums, Arsenal Park and Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) land. About 12 acres of additional Arsenal property, known as the Northeast Area, was transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA). Property 20, which is at the northeast tip of the GSA site, and Property 21, which is currently the site of the United Parcel Service, are parcels that were leased to the Army during the 1940s and 1950s. The MDC also controls 11 acres along the Charles River containing a public road, a public park and a yacht club (MDC) that is south of Materials Technology Laboratory (MTL). This 11 acre parcel is owned by the Army and is part of the NPL site.

The U.S. Army Materials Technology Laboratory was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) on May 30, 1994. The facility's inclusion on the NPL was largely based on the potential for site contaminants to migrate into the Charles River, which borders the installation on the south. Environmental contamination at MTL, and associated former Arsenal properties, resulted from a long history of munitions storage and arms manufacturing and related operations, and materials research.

In 1996, the Watertown Arsenal Development Corporation was formed, and its seven members, all residents of Watertown, are responsible for choosing, negotiating with, and overseeing a developer who will create an office park on 30 acres of the land. The first tenant, the Harvard Business School Publishing Office, is negotiating a lease and will bring 250-300 jobs to the site.

Since the summer of 1999, the historic AMTL Watertown area has been an office and manufacturing center, and the focus of attention in Watertown, Massachusetts. The center has been developed with the style and architecture of the original brick buildings.

In June 2001 Harvard University bought Watertown Arsenal from O'Neill Properties Group for $162 million. Having spent $110 million to do renovation, O'Neill Properties grossed roughly $28 million on the sale.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:57:59 ZULU