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EPA Begins Excavation of Two Small Areas Contaminated with PCBs in Acushnet North of the Slocum/Wood Street Bridge

Release Date: 12/01/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov), EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2005; Release # dd051202

(Boston) - As part of the ongoing New Bedford Harbor PCB cleanup, this week EPA began excavation of two small contaminated areas between the Titleist shoreline parking lot and the River View Park in Acushnet, Mass.

Soil sampling performed after the 2002-2003 PCB cleanup north of the Wood/Slocum Street Bridge found small areas of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination higher up the river bank on the Acushnet shoreline than what had been known previously. River View Park is not part of this cleanup effort. The park area was cleaned in 2002 and PCB soil testing continues to shows it meets cleanup standards.

Cleanup activities take place between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday with some possible Saturday work. The full cleanup of this area should take three to four weeks depending on weather and the processing of confirmatory samples.

The excavated PCB-contaminated soil will be loaded into sealed trucks which then will be cleaned and inspected before being allowed onto public streets. Only about 15 truck loads in total will be needed. After the contaminated soil is removed, clean backfill soil, a conservation seed mix, and erosion control fabric will be put down. Some additional saltmarsh plantings will be required next spring.

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 capacitor 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.

Since 1983, EPA has spent more than $209 million in planning, engineering and construction costs for the harbor cleanup. Approximately 38 acres of high priority areas have been cleaned up to date 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, quahog 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 about the New Bedford site, visit: http://www.epa.gov/ne/nbh/ .

Related Information:
Cleanup Process
Cleanup in New England
New Bedford Harbor
Web site

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