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Settlement Clears Path for Demolition and Cleanup of the Aerovox Mill, in New Bedford, Mass.

Release Date: 04/27/2010
Contact Information: Jeanethe Falvey, (617) 918-1020

(Boston, Mass. – April 27, 2010) – A $13 million settlement will ensure that the vacant PCB-contaminated Aerovox mill building in New Bedford is demolished, and that the 10-acre site is capped. The settling parties are the U.S. EPA and AVX Corporation.

EPA’s settlement with AVX will ensure the mill building is demolished and removed in a controlled manner that is safe and protective of nearby communities.

In addition to the settlement with EPA, AVX has also reached an agreement in principle with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of New Bedford to ensure that the site is further evaluated and remediated under the state’s hazardous waste site cleanup program before being turned over to the City. Finalization of the Commonwealth’s agreement will occur after the expiration of the comment period for the EPA’s agreement. Through these two additional agreements, valued at an additional estimated $13 million, the extent of contaminated soil and groundwater will be assessed, additional site cleanup and/or capping needs will be evaluated and long-term groundwater monitoring and cap maintenance will be performed. In addition, the City-AVX settlement provides for installation of a clean utility corridor to streamline potential future redevelopment of the site and creates a cost-sharing approach for a shoreline greenway.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), banned as of 1977, are a class of man-made chemicals that were used for many years at the Aerovox mill in the manufacture of capacitors for electronic devices. EPA had reached a settlement with the prior owner of the Site, Aerovox, Inc., to perform the demolition and capping, but Aerovox’s subsequent bankruptcy in 2001 lead to significant delays in addressing the site.

EPA’s settlement includes stringent performance standards for the control of dust and potential airborne contaminants, as well as rigorous management of dust suppression and water and storm water runoff. The settlement also requires AVX to perform air and water monitoring to assure compliance with these standards. Asbestos, mercury and other hazardous material will be removed before the mill is demolished in a safe, controlled manner. The City, using EPA funds, will hire a contractor to transport and dispose of the demolition debris offsite at appropriately licensed facilities. With assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA will inspect and oversee the demolition and capping on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the project proceeds smoothly and safely.

The planning, contracting and pre-mobilization activities are estimated to take 10 months from the effective date of the settlement prior to the start of on-site activity. The physical demolition of the mill building itself is estimated to take approximately six to eight months to complete.

“This highly collaborative settlement ensures that the contaminated Aerovox mill will be safely demolished,” said EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “It also represents an active public participation process - a process that is expected to continue. EPA looks forward to working with all stakeholders as we move into project implementation.”

"This site has been contaminated and vacant for many years, and we are pleased that it will now finally be cleaned up and put to more constructive use," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "This project is an example of how interagency collaboration between state, federal, and municipal agencies can lead to great results for our environment and our communities."

“MassDEP is greatly encouraged by these settlements, which have been many years in the making,” said MassDEP Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran. “Not only will a threat of public health, safety and the environment be removed, but a blighted, underutilized property along the waterfront will be readied for potential redevelopment. This is a win for all parties, and MassDEP looks forward to continuing the collaboration as this important project moves forward.”

"This is the most important land based environmental remediation project in New Bedford. The entire citizenry will benefit for generations to come when the former Aerovox site is cleaned and redeveloped for public use," said City of New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang.

More information:

A 30-day public comment period for the EPA settlement began when the proposed settlement agreement was published in the Federal Register on 4/23/2010. The
Federal Register notice is available (www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480ade71a)

EPA clean up work at the Aerovox site (www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/aerovox)

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