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Federal Advisory Committee Tours New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

Superfund Subcommittee tours the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

Superfund Subcommittee tours the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

During its meeting in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the Superfund Subcommittee of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology toured several locations around the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site to learn about the issues related to cleanup of a large, complex, sediment, Superfund site. The tour was conducted by the Mayor of New Bedford, Frederick Kalisz, a member of the Superfund Subcommittee, and his staff; EPA Remedial Project Managers Dave Dickerson and Jim Brown; and EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Stacy Greendlinger.

The 18,000-acre New Bedford Harbor Superfund site is an urban tidal estuary, containing sediments highly contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals. At least two manufacturers in the area used PCBs in producing electric devices from 1940 to the late 1970s, when EPA banned the use of PCBs. These facilities discharged industrial wastes containing PCBs directly into the harbor and indirectly via the city's sewerage system.

New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site

As a result, the harbor is contaminated in varying degrees for at least 6 miles, from the upper Acushnet River into Buzzards Bay. Over 100,000 people live within 3 miles of the site. Measurements taken at the site indicate tidal action transports up to 0.5 pounds per day of PCBs from the upper harbor to the lower harbor and, ultimately, to Buzzards Bay. Bioaccumulation of PCBs within the marine food chain has resulted in Massachusetts Department of Public Health closing certain areas to lobstering and fishing, and recreational activities. Harbor development has also been limited by the widespread PCB problem. For more information about the New Bedford Harbor site click here.

The Superfund Subcommittee was created in June 2002 to assist EPA in identifying the future direction of the Superfund program in the context of other Federal and State waste and site cleanup programs. Specifically, the Subcommittee is reviewing the documentation and, to the extent possible, providing answers to questions related to: (1) the role of the National Priorities List, (2) complex and expensive sites, called megasites, and (3) measurement of program progress.

Subcommittee members represent diverse interests of Superfund stakeholders. Members are experienced and knowledgeable individuals from: academia; business and industry; community and environmental advocacy groups; State, local and Tribal governments; environmental justice, nongovernmental and professional organizations; and EPA. Dr. Raymond Loehr, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, is the chair of the Subcommittee.

Operating under the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Subcommittee's work is well underway. To date, the Subcommittee has held three meetings in Washington, DC (June 17-18, 2002, September 23-24, 2002, and January 7-8, 2003); one in Phoenix, AZ (March 10-11, 2003); and the recent one in New Bedford, MA (June 17-18, 2003). Summary of the past meetings and information concerning future meetings may be obtained via EPA's Web site or from EPA's Docket (SFUND-2002-0005).

Future meetings are tentatively scheduled as follows:

  • September 3-5, 2003, Washington, DC
  • November 5-7, 2003, Washington, DC
  • December 9-11, 2003, Washington, DC

Each Subcommittee meeting is open to the public with specific times scheduled to hear people's thoughts and experiences with the Superfund Program. For more information on the meetings and submitting comments, contact Angelo Carasea, the Designated Federal Officer, at carasea.angelo@epa.gov.


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