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EPA Accelerates Work at Aerovox, Resumes Eighth Season of Harbor Dredging In New Bedford

Release Date: 06/28/2011
Contact Information: Kelsey O’Neil, (617) 918-1799

(Boston, Mass. – June 28, 2011) – The U.S. EPA has successfully moved ahead of the Aerovox Mill demolition schedule anticipated earlier this year. The initial phase of the demolition process, involving the removal of hazardous materials from inside the building, is expected to be completed in early July.  The careful deconstruction of the building structure is now set to begin by August.

Three truck loads of waste from the interior and exterior of Aerovox, such a light fixtures and asbestos, have been shipped off-site for licensed disposal. Daily air monitoring activities have begun. As EPA enters the demolition phase, there will be greater activity at the site with up to 20 trucks expected daily. Work crews will be operating during usual working hours from 7:00 a.m.  to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and are permitted to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays, with the intent to remove the building as quickly and as safely as possible.

The Aerovox Mill was one of two primary facilities that improperly disposed a significant amount of the PCB waste that has settled at the bottom of the harbor. Contamination inside the building from its operations has necessitated the careful demolition and disposal of all building materials.

In the lower Acushnet River, where it meets New Bedford Harbor, EPA will also resume its eighth season of Superfund dredging to remove contaminated sediment from the harbor floor.  Dredging activities just began and are expected to continue through September.

Seven areas are targeted for dredging this year; two just north of Manomet Street in New Bedford, four stretching across the harbor immediately north and south of the former Aerovox Mill and a smaller area at the end of Sawyer Street. EPA will be taking water quality, air quality and sediment samples to ensure that the harbor cleanup is progressing effectively and safely. Steps are being taken to ensure that the data collected from the environmental monitoring is more easily understood and more easily accessible on the project website.

PCBs are man-made organic compounds usually found in oily liquids that stick to finer grained sediment and silt. These chemicals do not break down easily in the natural environment and left unaddressed could continue to pose a risk within the local marine food chain and risk through dermal contact and incidental ingestion.  The best precautions the public can take are to avoid contact with shoreline soil, intertidal sediment and materials that have been at the bottom of the harbor and know where your fish or shellfish come from. While fish and shellfish are part of a healthy diet, those caught from inside New Bedford Harbor and the closure areas that extend past the New Bedford and Fairhaven Hurricane Barrier, contain levels of PCBs that could harm your health.

More information:

- Stay up to date with work progress and local air quality near the Aerovox project (on Web www.epa.gov/nbh/aerovox ) (on Twitter http://twitter.com/EPAaerovox) (or to receive updates directly on a cell phone, text “Follow EPAaerovox” to the number “40404.” Charges from cell phone providers would apply.)

- General info on New Bedford Harbor cleanup issues http://www.epa.gov/nbh/

- Information about EPA’s latest fish consumption guidelines http://epa.gov/nbh/seafood.html

- To learn more about EPA’s cleanup activities in the area, EPA will have walk-in office hours at the Sawyer Street site across from the Market Basket parking lot. The schedules will be subject to change but will be announced a week in advance through e-mail and the website. Next week, starting on July 5th, staff will be available from 8:30-10:30a.m., 12:00-2:00, and 4:30-6:30p.m.on Wednesday, and Thursday.

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