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EPA to Recover Cleanup Costs in Unique Proposed Settlement with the City of New Bedford

Release Date: 08/15/2001
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, 617-918-1064 Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1013

NEW BEDFORD – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued a proposed settlement to recover its costs of cleaning up the New Bedford Industrial Park Superfund Site through the first-ever use of an escrow account established with the city of New Bedford.

The public has 30 days to comment on the proposal. An escrow account, established in February 2001, was funded with money paid by EPA to the city for the purchase of properties required for the cleanup of the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site. The city's payment of $166,000 for the Industrial Park site, which will be drawn from this account, represents a 100% recovery of costs EPA incurred in cleaning up this site.

Remaining funds from the property acquisitions will stay in escrow and may be applied to another hazardous waste site for which the city is a part owner. This is the first time use of such an escrow account mechanism is being proposed. It enables:

    • the city to clear itself of liability for the Industrial Park site without having to secure cash funding;
    • EPA to recover its clean-up costs and compensate the city for property needed for the harbor cleanup; and
    • streamlining of the legal processes involved in these multiple sites.
"This use of an escrow account is an example of how EPA New England works with local governments," said Robert W. Varney, EPA New England administrator. "Working with the city of New Bedford not only enabled EPA to recover its cleanup costs, but to do so in a way that produced multiple benefits for the city and EPA."

In May 1995, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found a vandalized transformer and a release of PCB-containing oil at the Industrial Park site, located at 129 John Vertente Jr. Boulevard. The transformer was located on a small portion of the 79-acre, unoccupied industrial complex.

The site had been extensively vandalized: graffiti covered all flat surfaces, utility poles had been cut down for the scrap metal, all utility wires had been stripped and all windows have been broken. EPA cleaned up the hazardous waste in1997 by removing the PCB-contaminated transformer and excavating PCB-contaminated soil, disposing of them in a licensed facility, and restoring the site with clean material. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are probable carcinogens and are now banned. The area is now the location of the recently constructed Aerovox facility.

Comments must be submitted by September 10, 2001 and should be addressed to:

Regional Hearing Clerk
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1
One Congress Street, Mailcode RAA
Boston, MA 02203
Re: New Bedford Industrial Park Superfund Site, U.S. EPA Docket No. 01-2001-0053