NEW BEDFORD – It’s light at the end of a dark, sediment-filled tunnel with bald eagles hovering above. It only took about 40 years.
With the approval of $72.7 million in federal funds Bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding, the Environmental Protection AgencyThe cleanup led by the Port of New Bedford will be completed in three years.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said it was so long in coming that many people probably assumed it would never happen, but with cleaning up the Superfund siteEast New Bedford ready to become a center of the offshore wind industry.
“It’s really exciting for us and it’s really symbolic of how New Bedford has reinvented itself time after time to provide opportunity for its residents, so this is great news from the EPA,” a- he said during Tuesday’s announcement.
Senator Edward Markey served on the congressional committee that created the Superfund project. In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was passed. New Bedford was added to the National Priorities List in 1983 as one of the most contaminated sites.
Markey said he was proud to say the incredibly important historic project can be completed with the announcement of bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding given all the damage done to the port by the businesses that have used the port. as a dump and put profits first.
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“Now we are on the cusp of a new era, and this funding is possible thanks to the incredible investment we have made in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill of 2021 that the President Biden signed,” he said. “That funding is coming back here in the form of jobs that are going to be created to complete this project and new jobs that are going to be created along New Bedford Harbor.”
The total cost of cleaning the port’s PCBs – or “virgin and clean bay” as Markey called it, is nearly a billion dollars. About half of that amount was funded through federal and state government cost recovery efforts.
EPA’s investment in completing the 18,000-acre New Bedford Harbor Cleanup is accelerating private investment that will be integral to New Bedford’s future, Congressman Bill Keating said.
“This is an example not only in our Commonwealth, but an example for our country in how we move forward and take adversity and turn it into strength,” he said. “It’s economically viable, environmentally vibrant, it’s a place to invest, it’s a place to work, it’s a place where everyone has a chance to get ahead, and it’s a day of pride.”
Keating said he was pleased to hear about the latest $4 million settlement with Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc., a South Carolina-based company with a manufacturing plant in New Bedford, looking back at a 366 settlement. million between the United States, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and AVX Corporation since September 2013.
With all of the contaminated sediment that has been removed from the harbor and disposed of safely, US Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe said she would be proud to tell her young grand- Boston son that the EPA was integral to offshore wind development.
“It’s good for public health, it’s good for quality of life, it’s good for economic development and I’m so proud that it’s a site in this country that is at the cutting edge of the clean energy revolution,” she said.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito outlined a new future for New Bedford made possible by city leaders, including the mayor and ward councilors, as well as Acushnet and Fairhaven officials who did the planning and worked hard at the municipal level. She said preparation and acceleration are key.
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“We cannot afford to waste a minute to take advantage of all the incredible opportunities with the future of offshore wind and renewable energy and also ensure that other industries that have always been part of the history of New Bedford, commercial and recreational fishing, all of the attributes associated with the tourism industry here, are also part of this incredible story,” she said.
She also thanked the state Department of Environmental Protection for working with the EPA on this project as the lead regulator making sure the money is used properly and everyone is held accountable. responsible while helping to open the door to new opportunities for economic development.
Fairhaven Select board member Bob Espindola said the funding was also vital for the town and its 30 miles of shoreline, with the dredging of New Bedford Harbor benefiting the waterfront, shipyards and a multitude of marine enterprises.
“This award tackles one of the clearest examples of environmental justice,” Espindola said.
Colonel John Atilano, commander of the US Army Corps New England District, said he was often asked to do the possible and repeated one of Senator Markey’s favorite words while reflecting on the repair that has been completed and the work that awaits them.
“We don’t get the easy jobs, we’re asked to do the impossible, and for us to do the impossible I need to have two things – I need to have clearance and I need a big cheque” , did he declare. said. “I love how Senator Markey always says a dream without money is just a hallucination, and it’s 100% true.”
He said bald eagles are already back in the harbor, a welcome sign of an improving environment, and that the rest of the project will only take three more years to complete.
“We can almost see the light at the end of a dark tunnel filled with sediment, and what a beautiful light it is,” he said.
Standard-Times editor Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.