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Clean Up New Bedford Harbor

New Bedford Harbor has suffered for decades from toxic PCB contamination that harms the health of our residents and our water. After years of waiting, the community still isn't getting the cleanup it deserves. Join our fight for a clean, safe New Bedford Harbor.

Ensure the cleanest, safest harbor for everybody to enjoy

Azorean whaleboats on New Bedford HarborFor decades, manufacturing facilities dumped contaminants called PCBs into the Acushnet River. That toxic pollution has robbed the New Bedford community of its greatest natural asset: its harbor. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “cleanup” plan will still leave New Bedford Harbor as one of the most contaminated water bodies in the United States.

In some parts of the harbor, the EPA is planning to leave behind fifty times more toxic pollution than it has in similar waterway cleanups in other parts of the country. The bottom line? New Bedford Harbor is getting one of the worst PCB cleanups of its kind in America.

No one should be satisfied with a “cleanup” that won’t give New Bedford exactly what it deserves: a healthy, vibrant harbor where residents can safely row, fish and shellfish. The community has waited far too long for clean water – don’t let the EPA leave New Bedford with a polluted harbor forever.

Leave a legacy of clean water for future generations

sunset over New Bedford HarborCorporations that polluted New Bedford Harbor have deprived the community of clean water for decades. We can’t allow the EPA to sentence our children and grandchildren to the same fate by using cost-cutting techniques that won’t guarantee a safe, clean harbor in the future.

Until this point, the EPA has been shipping PCB-contaminated sediment away from New Bedford to a safe, secure disposal facility in Michigan. But now the EPA is planning to use a new method to get rid of contaminated sediment – by keeping it right here in New Bedford, buried in an underwater pit called a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) cell.

A CAD cell might save a small amount of time and money. But it hasn’t been proven to keep the level of toxic pollution found in New Bedford Harbor away for good. That’s why the Coalition is working to find the answer. With funding from an EPA Technical Assistance Grant, we are collaborating with a University of Connecticut scientist to study CAD cells and determine if this cleanup technique is the best choice for the harbor and the community.

The EPA is also planning to “clean up” the harbor by burying contaminated sediment directly along New Bedford Harbor’s shoreline within large, bulkheaded cells called Confined Disposal Facilities (CDFs). These CDFs containing toxic pollution would be in plain view to anybody who visits New Bedford’s waterfront.

We want the EPA to use the safest, best techniques so New Bedford Harbor is clean forever. Our children and grandchildren deserve the cleanest possible harbor: a place where they can play in a marsh, launch a rowboat for a Sunday paddle, or simply stroll along the water and enjoy a beautiful view. That vision for the future can – and will – be a reality if we fight today for a full cleanup.

Make polluters pay for a clean harbor

factory along the Acushnet RiverIn September 2013, a federal court approved a $366 million settlement between the EPA and AVX, the largest company responsible for PCB pollution in New Bedford Harbor. This may seem like a lot of money, but it is not nearly enough to fully clean up the harbor.

The EPA has consistently misjudged how much the harbor cleanup will cost. In 1992, the agency estimated a price tag of $33 million; 20 years later, it had spent more than $456 million, but hadn’t even cleaned up one-third of the contamination. Now the EPA believes the project will end up costing a total of $849 million – more than 25 times the original estimate. How will $366 million be enough to finish the job?

Worse, the settlement does not allow the government to ask AVX for more money in the future if the cleanup costs more than expected. That means AVX will pay $366 million and then walk away forever. The EPA may be forced into making cheaper cleanup choices like CAD cells and CDFs, which put lower costs ahead of public good.

The Coalition went to court to fight to keep AVX on the hook to pay for a full harbor cleanup. We argued that a settlement without a “reopener clause” is not in the best interest of the community. Unfortunately, the court approved the settlement. But the fight for a clean, safe harbor is far from over. Through sound science and a unified community voice, we will continue to stand up against the EPA’s weak cleanup plans.

What You Can Do
Join our fight for a clean New Bedford Harbor by becoming a Coalition member today. You’ll join more than 8,000 dedicated members who support the Coalition’s efforts to restore and protect Buzzards Bay, including New Bedford Harbor and the Acushnet River.

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