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Public Meeting on New Bedford Underwater Capping Pilot Study Thursday, May 19th at 7 p.m

Release Date: 05/18/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: May 18, 2005; Release # dd050522

Boston - An public information meeting will be held on Thurs. May 19th at 7 p.m. to discuss an underwater capping pilot study slated to begin this summer along the shore of the Cornell-Dubilier facility. The meeting will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Fort Taber Community Center in New Bedford. Spanish and Portuguese interpreters will be available.

The Underwater Capping Pilot Study will use uncontaminated sand from the City of New Bedford’s navigational dredging to create an underwater barrier cap which will cover and contain the PCB contamination. EPA will monitor the physical, chemical, and biological quality of the cap annually. The Underwater Capping Pilot Study will accelerate the PCB cleanup in the outer harbor.

Because the outer harbor’s contamination levels are significantly lower than other parts of the harbor, it likely would be the last area dredged. Given the uncertainty of the harbor PCB cleanup budget, it is possible that contaminated sediment near the Cornell-Dubilier facility would not be addressed for another 20 to 25 years.

The New Bedford Harbor Superfund site includes all of New Bedford Harbor and parts of the Acushnet River and Buzzards Bay. The harbor was contaminated with PCBs, the result of past waste disposal practices at two electrical component manufacturing plants, one on the Acushnet River, the second on the outer harbor. PCB wastes were discharged directly into the harbor, as well as indirectly through the city’s sewer system. EPA added the harbor to its National Priorities List (known as the Superfund list) in 1983, making the site eligible for federal Superfund cleanup money.

EPA has spent more than $189 million in planning, engineering and construction costs for the harbor cleanup. Fifteen acres of the most highly contaminated areas have been cleaned up and the remaining 240 acres of contaminated sediment, including surrounding wetlands and residential properties, will be processed at the new 5-acre dewatering facility in the harbor’s North Terminal. An estimated 880,000 cubic yards of sediments are slated to be removed, roughly equivalent to 175 football fields each filled three feet deep.

Fish, lobster and other seafood from New Bedford Harbor and the Acushnet River contain high levels of PCBs, which can cause illness if eaten regularly. In 1979, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued restrictions on fishing and lobstering based on health risks from eating fish and lobster from the 18,000-acre New Bedford Harbor and Acushnet River estuary.

For more information is available at the New Bedford Harbor Web site ( .

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