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Release Date: 08/20/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston -- Contractors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office will conduct extensive shoreline and wetland sampling in New Bedford Harbor beginning this Monday, August 23, 1999. This sampling is being done as part of EPA's $300 million Superfund cleanup of the upper and lower harbor.

This sampling program is part of EPA's efforts to fine-tune the New Bedford Harbor cleanup. Sediments will be monitored for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) to determine those areas between high and low tide and in wetland areas with PCB levels above EPA's cleanup levels. Sediments with PCB levels above cleanup levels will be removed during the dredging phase of the remedy, consistent with EPA's September 1998 Record of Decision for the harbor cleanup.

Residents should note that EPA's contractors will be wearing white protective clothing as a precautionary measure to protect them from exposure to contaminated sediments that may splash during sampling. The sampling will be done so as not to spread contaminants beyond current locations.

With sampling beginning Monday, EPA's New England Administrator John DeVillars reminds New Bedford residents and fisherman that: "While EPA is working to restore New Bedford Harbor, residents should be aware that fish, shellfish and lobsters in the area are still contaminated and state law prohibits fishing, shellfishing and lobstering in areas both inside and outside of the harbor. People should not eat fish or shellfish taken from the harbor."

A fishing advisory has been in place since 1979 for New Bedford Harbor and the Acushnet River.