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Release Date: 04/19/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - Seventeen individuals and organizations from Massachusetts were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their contributions to the environment. The Massachusetts winners were among 37 recipients from around New England that received Environmental Merit Awards at an Earth Day ceremony at Faneuil Hall.

The awards, given out since 1970, are awarded to individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the environment. This year's competition drew nearly 100 applications.

"These residents and organizations from Massachusetts have played a significant role in protecting and cleaning the air, water and land that is so important to our health and well-being," said Mindy S. Lubber, EPA's New England Administrator. "All of us have the ability to serve the environment. It just takes will. The men and women being honored today serve as examples of people who had the will and found a way to help make sure we all have a cleaner, safer environment."

The 17 winners from Massachusetts were:

    • Lisa Brukilacchio of Somerville: Brukilacchio works for the City for Somerville as Greenspace coordinator, managing community gardens and teaching local youth self-sufficiency and an appreciation for nature. She is also on the board of Gaining Ground, a nonprofit that works with urban youth to promote organic, sustainable agriculture. As originator of the Somerville Environmental Recycling Volunteers, Lisa set up a program in which residents collected and sorted waste before the city began recycling. As founding member of Alewife/Mystic River Advocates, she helped start the 10K Herring Run that parallels the annual run of alewives up the Mystic River.
    • Paul Donnelly of Taunton: As Taunton's environmental coordinator, Paul Donnelly has been an outstanding resource to EPA's Removal Program during several projects in the city. Donnelly has referred suspected hazardous waste sites for evaluation, provided historical information and identified people with more information. Paul was instrumental in the cleanup and redevelopment of a former hazardous waste site now used by the city's DPW. He also worked closely with EPA on the Taunton River Enhancement Project, helping with the cleanup and then the redevelopment of the site as a passive recreation area.
    • David Dow of East Falmouth: David Dow has been a consistent voice for the Cape Cod community, contributing to environmental progress in cleaning up the Massachusetts Military Reservation. A biological oceanographer and founding member of the Cape Cod chapter of the Sierra Club, David for years has attended MMR public meetings. He served during 1997 and 1998 as a citizen member of the Community Working Group that created a master plan for the military reservation. Now he is working with the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod to organize this month's Upper Cape Cod Environmental Summit.
    • Ross Gelbspan of Brookline: Ross Gelbspan, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist in 1997 wrote "The Heat is On," a book on global climate change that is considered one of the best sources on the subject. Since publishing the book, Ross has promoted the issue at places like the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, as well as in schools and corporations. The former Boston Globe report also helped EPA New England launch its Global Climate Change Educators program.
    • Ali Noorani of Boston: Noorani has been director of the Greater Boston Urban Resources Partnership since 1998. The five-year-old coalition of community groups, businesses and government agencies helps communities link social, economic and environmental concerns. Noorani has helped the group work on projects with lasting impact. As director, Ali has guided the Greater Boston Urban Resource Partnership from a fledgling organization into one of New England's most successful environmental coalitions, an innovative national model of how groups can collaborate to act as urban environmental stewards.
    • Richard Reibstein of Boston: For more than a decade, Reibstein has generated innovative ideas in the Technical Assistance Office at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He was among the first in the country to do on-site visits for pollution prevention, stressing the importance of helping companies find the best, most efficient environmental options without telling them what to do. Rick came up with ideas for working with schools on unsafe chemical storage, creating a politically impartial business network and developing an environmental preferable purchasing system in the state.
    • Jonathan Twining of Quincy: An environmental scientist professor at Eastern Nazarene College, Twining has worked with the Quincy Department of Public Works on local conservation projects. In 1999, he worked on restoration and enhancement of the Sailors Home Pond, preparing educational materials on the pond, organizing a cleanup, and getting $10,000 from the state to implement a restoration plan. He is now working with students from Norwell to assess water quality in Wompatuck State Park.
    • Mary Ellen Welch of East Boston: Mary Ellen Welch has helped improve the environment and quality of life in East Boston through her involvement in four projects. As a teacher at the O'Donnell Elementary School, she brought together parents, teachers, children and neighbors to create an innovative schoolyard that is a model for the city of Boston. She has also been a leading member of the East Boston Greenway Council, which has worked to create a 3.3-mile trail linking an urban neighborhood with Belle Island Marsh, one of the last remaining salt marshes in Boston. She has been active with the Chelsea Creek Action Group to help transform the shoreline of the creek into a recreational, environmental and economic resource. And, finally, she is working with Communities Against Runway Expansion and speaks against construction of proposed Runway 1432 at Logan.
    • State Air Offices in and Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island: The offices responsible for air quality in these three states voluntarily submitted regulations to EPA to reduce air pollution regarding the interstate transport of nitrogen oxides, a precursor of ozone smog. The states submitted these regulations despite a court ruling that said the states did not yet have to meet these federal requirements. Regulations from these three states will result in nitrogen oxide reductions of more than 5,500 tons each ozone season beginning in 2003. These three states were the only states in the country to make such submissions to date.
    • Barnstable County Health Department and Burlington Board of Health: The Burlington Board of Health and Barnstable County Health Department have instituted innovated approaches to deal with mercury reduction. Todd Dresser, Lianne Abramo and Brian Lockhard of the Burlington Board of Health launched a Universal Waste Recycling Initiative aimed at reducing the amount of mercury and heavy metals in the waste stream. Since 1998, through this initiative, they have collected 230,000 linear feet of flourescent lighting, 12,000 pounds of electronic ballast, 2,300 pounds of batteries, 10,400 pounds of computer/electronic equipment, 180 oral and cooking thermometers, as well as thermostats, blood pressure cuffs, and 2 pounds of elemental mercury.
      Marina Brock and Todd Dresser have trained municipal officials in complex health, safety and environmental issues - including a mercury recovery program. They have trained fire departments, schools, police and public works employees. After getting many inquiries on their programs from government agencies, Brock and Dresser developed training seminars and guidance documents. More than 400 Massachusetts officials attended their seminars last year. Their programs have also led to the recovery of more than 250,000 linear feet of fluorescent lighting and the removal of more than 70 tons of chemical waste from schools. Most importantly, their programs are models for other communities.
    • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Western Regional Office: For three years, the Springfield-based regional office of DEP has successfully juggled its role as lead agency responsible for an unprecedented residential sampling and PCB cleanup program in Pittsfield with its role in intensive cleanup negotiations between General Electric and numerous government agencies. The DEP team has overseen the sampling of more than 230 residential properties, cleanup of more than 100 properties and identification of an additional 30 homes slated for cleanup this year. This office effectively collaborated with EPA and 20 other government agencies in negotiating a settlement with GE that paves the way for the cleanup of the Housatonic River and Pittsfield.
    • NEWMOA's Technology Review Committee: The Technology Review Committee of the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association last year succeeded in getting New England states to cooperate in promoting use of innovative technologies for site assessments and cleanups. To better coordinate reviews of these technologies, the committee developed a system for issuing advisory opinions describing the uses and limitations of specific technologies. The advisory opinions serve a dual purpose: to help state environmental agencies in their understanding of new innovative technologies; and to expedite reviews of those technologies so they can get into the marketplace more easily. The committee includes: William Cass, Jennifer Griffith, Christine Lacas, Mark Hyland, Dorothy Allen, Robert Minicucci, James Harrington, Laurie Grandchamp, Paul Kulpa and Richard Spiese.
    • Town of Wakefield: The town of Wakefield used its power of eminent domain to buy an environmentally significant one-acre parcel at the headwaters of the Saugus River watershed for $1.06 million. Town residents voted to buy the property bordering Lake Quannapowitt last summer, after more than a decade of discussion about obtaining the land for town use. Plans are underway to convert the site into a passive park that will connect to an existing town park and swimming area on the lake.
    • MCI-WorldCom, Friends of Forest Beach and Town Officials in Chatham: These three groups successfully negotiated a deal to conserve 91 acres of environmentally valuable land in Chatham that previously was owned by MCI-WorldCom. The conservation effort began in fall 1998, when Chatham officials learned that 65 acres of marsh, wetlands and beachfront known as Forest Beach in South Chatham and 27 acres in North Chatham were up for sale by MCI-WorldCom. At the same time, Friends of Forest Beach, a neighborhood action group, entered into negotiations with the company. Negotiations between the three groups resulted in an agreement last year for the town to acquire the property, including beachfront acreage.
    • Steve Babbitt and the Friends of Lynn Woods, Lynn: Steve Babbitt and the Friends of Lynn Woods have transformed Lynn Woods, the second largest municipal park in the country, from a neglected 2,200-acre urban forest into a well-maintained wilderness oasis. Babbitt played a key role in this transformation as spokesperson for the Friends of Lynn Woods. He helped pool resources of city agencies and citizens to protect this resource. Formed in 1989, Friends of Lynn Woods has spearheaded efforts to: prevent a golf course and other developments from being built in the Woods; stop residential encroachment on the parkland; stop illegal dumping; and restore a rose garden originally planted in the 1920s.
    • Merrimack River Watershed Council, Lawrence: The Merrimack River Watershed (MRWC) Council's training and support for volunteer environmental monitors through the Merrimack Watershed Environmental Monitoring Network has produced enormous benefits. The council has been active in monitoring and assessing many rivers and tributaries in the watershed - among those, the Shawsheen River where the group helped identify more than 15 hot-spot pollution problems. The council also created Groundwork Lawrence, one of three pilot programs in the U.S. patterned after the successful Groundwork network in England. Groundwork Lawrence was involved in design of green spaces throughout the city. The council also acquired four tracts of land along the Merrimack and Shawsheen Rivers, including an 11-acre island in the Merrimack as the first steps in developing a canoe trail along these rivers. MRWC has organized canoe and kayak trips for the public on rivers and streams throughout the watershed for 14 years, including more than 40 trips last year alone.
    • Silent Spring Institute, Newton: Named in honor of Rachel Carson's book about the dangers of DDT, Silent Spring Institute has a new approach to environmental health research. The institute's research about breast cancer and the environment represents a unique collaboration of scientists and the public, with input coming from co-investigators at leading universities, public health and environmental agencies. The institute has taken a leading role in research to investigate and assess human health implications from exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds, a complex set of pollutants found in many common products such as pesticides, detergents and plastics. A central challenge in the institute's new research is to develop new ways to measure exposure to environmental pollutants. The institute's Newton Breast Cancer Study, reported last year, explored women's use of consumer products that contain chemicals hypothesized to affect breast cancer.