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Release Date: 08/20/1997
Contact Information: Michael O'Malley, (617) 918-1014

BOSTON -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator John DeVillars today announced that EPA was awarding a $50,000 Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod (APCC) for oversight of cleanup activities at the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

"This grant gives concerned citizens on the Upper Cape the independent expertise needed to ensure that the cleanup of MMR is on -- and stays on -- the right course," said DeVillars. " This is a critical and opportune time for APCC and its advisors to weigh in and we're glad they will. We need them at the table."

The TAG program was established in 1986 as part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The grant provides concerned citizens the opportunity to hire independent technical experts, such as toxicologists, chemists and biologists, to help them interpret complex technical data and sit hazards, and become more knowledgeable on the investigations and cleanup work at Superfund National Priorities List sites. APCC has chosen the Cape Cod Commission / Science Advisory Panel to fill this role and act as its technical advisor.

Prior to submission of the proposal for a TAG grant, the APCC sent letters to numerous local organizations, inviting interested groups to be a part of a coalition to be formed. The five groups that expressed interest in participating are: Coonamessett Pond Association, Lochstead Association, Cape Cod Group of the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters of Falmouth, and the Woods Hole Research Center.

APCC has formed a steering committee to oversee all aspects of the project, emphasizing educational services to the citizens of the Upper Cape.

The Massachusetts Military Reservation site covers approximately 22,000 acres. Established in 1935, the it has been utilized for industrialized military activities since that time, and is currently under use by the Massachusetts Air National Guard, the Massachusetts Army National Guard, and the United States Coast Guard. Spread over four towns -- Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich, and Bourne -- the reservation sits atop the recharge area for the groundwater aquifer -- designated by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act as an important "sole source" aquifer -- serving these and other Cape Cod towns.

In 1978, contaminants were found in the groundwater emanating from reservation property. Since that time, it has been determined that the contamination of groundwater emanating from the base is extensive, and that activities on the property -- dating back to the reservation's inception -- are largely responsible. Moreover, it has been determined that contamination from the reservation has reached both private and public drinking water wells in towns surrounding the reservation.

In 1982, the Department of Defense implemented a program to investigate and clean up the contamination on and surrounding the base. In 1989, the Massachusetts Military Reservation was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund National Priority List, indicating that the contamination at the reservation represented a significant threat to the public health and the environment.

For more information on the MMR's cleanup program, contact the MMR Public Affairs office at (508) 968-4678. For those Cape Cod Citizens interested in joining the TAG effort, please contact APCC at (508) 255-4142.