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EPA Resumes Ninth Season of Dredging in New Bedford Harbor

Release Date: 06/06/2012
Contact Information: Kelsey O’Neil, (617) 918-1003

(Boston, Mass. – June 6, 2012) – EPA is set to begin the ninth season of dredging at the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site.  Mobilization for the dredging began the week of May 28, and dredging is set to begin towards the end of June. Through September 2012, EPA will again be hydraulically dredging areas at the bottom of the harbor that have been contaminated from earlier decades of industrial pollution.

Contamination of the harbor is attributed to two primary facilities that improperly disposed a significant amount of the PCB waste that has settled at the bottom of the harbor.  PCBs are an oily liquid that adhere to the finer grained organic material and silt along the harbor bottom, the chemical nature does not typically lend itself to significant movement in the environment except through the local food chain.

EPA's greatest concern is the possibility of people eating contaminated locally caught seafood, caught from within New Bedford Harbor and the closure areas that extend past the New Bedford and Fairhaven Hurricane Barrier. The build-up of PCB levels within the local marine life has resulted in restrictions for fishing, shellfishing and lobstering in and around the harbor which will remain in place until PCB levels decrease. Annual seafood data is collected to ensure that the current restrictions are accurate.

Two areas are targeted for dredging this year, Areas “L” and “P” located north of Pierce Mill Cove. Environmental monitoring will continue throughout the cleanup process this year, as in past years. EPA will be taking water quality, air quality and sediment samples to ensure that the harbor cleanup is progressing effectively and safely of the harbor environment and nearby communities.

EPA will continue to ensure that the data collected from the environmental monitoring is easily accessible on the project website: www.epa.gov/nbh

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