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Officials in New Bedford Officially Launch First Use of Rail to Transport PCB Sedimen

Release Date: 09/29/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Stacey Greenlinger (617) 918-1403

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2005; Release # dd050918

Officials from the city of New Bedford, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state gathered this morning at the city’s recently developed rail yard to recognize the first ever use of rail to move PCB-contaminated sediment.

Gathered a stone’s throw from the harbor, the group watched as a load of dewatered sediment was moved from EPA’s Dewatering Facility across the street to the New Bedford Rail Yard. Mayor Frederick Kalisz and officials from EPA officially launched the rail transport at the same time they commemorated the second season of full-scale harbor dredging at New Bedford.

The train cars moved from the Dewatering Facility to the New Bedford Rail Yard for the first time earlier this week.

Kalisz and Susan Studlien, director of the EPA New England Office of Site Remediation and Restoration marked the occasion by each driving a golden spike into the spurs for tracks that connect the two facilities. At the invitation of the mayor, Studlien signaled the track-mobile to start moving the loaded and tightly sealed rail cars to the new rail yard.

This connection was symbolic of the close relationship between the dredging project, the newly developed rail yard and overall efforts to revitalize New Bedford and its harbor. The rail yard, once a state hazardous waste site and Superfund removal site, has been redeveloped into a working rail yard and will eventually be a regional transportation hub for southeastern Massachusetts, according to city plans.

“The PCB harbor cleanup is more than just about the harbor sediment, it incorporates the needs of the communities to move on and regain the economic and environmental benefits of a revitalized harbor,” said Susan Studlien, director of the EPA New England Office of Site Remediation and Restoration. “The rail yard may be the engine of economic and social benefits for New Bedford and surrounding communities. We already see that with the benefit rail provides the PCB harbor cleanup effort."

"During the past eight years we have worked tirelessly to remediate our brownfields so that they could once again add to the quality of life of our neighborhoods and become economic engines for our community,” said Kalisz. “Today we celebrate the completion of one of our most complex Brownfield redevelopments which, through partnership with the EPA, DEP, CSX and the New Bedford Redevelopment Authority, allows us to restore an active freight rail connection to downtown New Bedford and the North Terminal Bulkheads and facilitates the work of the EPA and the Army Corp to complete the Superfund cleanup of our harbor in a cost effective fashion."

Reporters touring the dewatering facility were for the first time invited to see it in operation.

Also speaking at the event were Col.Curtis Thalken, commander and district engineer for the US Army Corp of Engineers and Gary Moran, southeast regional director of the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection

The 55,000-square-foot dewatering facility is an integral part of the harbor cleanup process and will be an integral part of the working waterfront. This facility will process some 300 acres of dredged contaminated harbor sediment – about 175 football fields each filled 3 feet deep. The dewatering process squeezes excess water from the sediment and then the remaining sediment, called filter cake, is shipped off site.

The dewatering facility and surrounding marine bulkhead and rail spur will revert to the city when the harbor cleanup is finished. It can be fully integrated into the working waterfront and anchors the City’s planned intermodal transportation facility, thus adding to the vitality of the City of New Bedford’s working waterfront.

Over the last several years New Bedford has received more than $3 million dollars from EPA New England for brownfields activities, drinking water security and environmental education programs.

The dewatering facility, which was new in 2004, last year dredged about three acres of contaminated sediment from the harbor and processed it in the newly constructed facility.

In addition, seven acres were cleaned north of Wood Street in the past three years and five acres of the most highly contaminated sediment was dredged in the mid ‘90s.

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. About 30 acres of high priority areas have been cleaned up to date and the remaining approximately 270 acres of contaminated sediment, including surrounding wetlands and residential properties, will be processed at the new five-acre dewatering facility in the harbor’s North Terminal. An estimated 880,000 cubic yards of sediments are slated to be removed.

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.
the New Bedford Harbor Web site for more information (

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