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Release Date: 03/04/1999

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office and the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC) today announced that they have received a $100,000 grant to conduct a two-year study about environmental and health risks for East Boston and Chelsea residents living near Chelsea Creek.

The comparative risk assessment, funded by EPA Headquarters in Washington, will be used to identify various health and environmental risks in the Chelsea Creek neighborhood which can then be used to help the communities prioritize actions that can reduce those risks.

The study will be led by EBECC, a multi-cultural community organization with a 20-year history of community organizing in the Latino, Brazilian, Cambodian and Vietnamese communities. EBECC will partner with the Chelsea Green Space Committee, which will coordinate outreach on the study in Chelsea. Their efforts have been part of a two-year environmental revitalization effort of the Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG).

The Greater Boston Urban Resources Partnership, a coalition of neighborhood groups, grassroots organizations, city, state, and federal agencies, helped bring CCAG together and is committed to providing funds and other assistance to help restore Chelsea Creek.

"This grant is a critical part of our overall effort to restore Chelsea Creek so that it can be a valuable economic and environmental asset to East Boston and Chelsea," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of EPA's New England Office.

"Communities are best able to identify and develop solutions to their local environmental problems," added EPA Deputy Administrator Peter Robertson, who will be touring Chelsea Creek this afternoon with DeVillars and community leaders. "With this grant, we will be able to work with local community groups and residents to better understand and address the environmental challenges facing the Chelsea River watershed."

"The comparative risk assessment is a unique opportunity for our community to know the hazards and risks it faces," added Ana da Hora, who will coordinate the risk study for EBECC. "We know there is a lot of sickness and suffering in East Boston and Chelsea. We need to know why, so we can fight to end it."

A major portion of the grant money will be used to do a comprehensive outreach effort to find out from residents, physicians, public health experts and environmental leaders what their perspectives are about environmental and health risks in the Chelsea Creek area. Those results will then be analyzed and ranked so that the Urban Resources Partnership can prioritize what work needs to be done.

Chelsea Creek is one of only two urban areas in New England that has been selected for such a comparative risk assessment - the other being Hartford, Conn. The project is among numerous initiatives EPA's New England Office has underway through its Urban Environmental Initiative in in Chelsea Creek and the larger Mystic River watershed.

Among those efforts is a joint enforcement/compliance assistance project by EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to address possible pollution sources in the Mystic River watershed. That effort began last fall when letters from EPA were sent to a half-dozen communities requesting detailed technical information about possible pollution sources in the watershed, including discharges from storm drains.