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Acting Administrator Wheeler Visits Massachusetts to Commemorate the First Anniversary of the Superfund Task Force Report

Acting Administrator Wheeler visited EPA’s Region 1 office, a solar power plant, and the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

07/25/2018
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. —Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler traveled to Massachusetts to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Superfund Task Force Report, assess ongoing cleanup efforts at the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site, tour a solar power plant, and visit with EPA’s Region 1 office.  

“On the one-year anniversary of the Superfund Task Force Report, EPA can proudly say that we have made tremendous progress moving sites toward deletion and expediting the cleanup and redevelopment of sites for the benefit of the surrounding communities,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site is a great example of EPA working with state and local partners to accelerate cleanup and redevelopment simultaneously – a model for other sites around the nation.”

In his first visit to EPA Region 1, Acting Administrator Wheeler attended a senior staff meeting where he was briefed on regional issues and how EPA can work with communities in New England to better protect human health and environment. This was followed by an all-hands meeting with Region 1 staff where Administrator Wheeler addressed staff on his goals for the Agency and thanked them for their leadership on important issues, such as hosting EPA’s first PFAS Regional community engagement event.

After the visit with Region 1, Administrator Wheeler toured Sullivan’s Ledge Solar Array, a solar power plant which the city of New Bedford developed on top of the Sullivan’s Ledge Superfund Landfill Site – another example of the impact the Superfund program can have.

Then, Administrator Wheeler traveled to New Bedford Harbor to host a Superfund Task Force event, highlighting EPA’s accomplishments on the one-year anniversary of the Superfund Task Force Report. He was joined by Jon Mitchell, mayor of New Bedford, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Administrator Wheeler was also given a tour of the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site and updated on the ongoing efforts to clean up and revitalize the site. New Bedford Harbor is the nation’s leading commercial port in terms of the dollar value of its annual fishing catch. The improper disposal of wastes from several capacitor manufacturing plants caused the Harbor to be listed as one of EPA's largest Superfund Cleanup Sites. The pace of the cleanup has been greatly accelerated by a $366 million settlement with one of the responsible parties, and EPA expects the majority of the cleanup to be completed in the next five years. As cleanup work is completed, real estate that is now occupied by EPA’s cleanup efforts will start to become available for reuse. This approach is a model for other sites around the country.

“The partnership the City has developed with the EPA Regional Office and the national Superfund Task Force is key to our local effort to maximize the economic engine that is New Bedford Harbor,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “With nearly 7,000 workers and $327 million in seafood landings alone, our Harbor represents 2 percent of the entire Massachusetts economy, so the joint effort to clean up and modernize the Port of New Bedford has a tremendous return on investment.”

The New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site cleanup is showing economic benefits for the community in New Bedford and will continue to do so when cleanup is finished,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn. “We are working closely with local, state and federal partners to make real progress here and continue to be a showcase for the Superfund Task Force effort.

Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.