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EPA Reaches Agreement With New Bedford Over Initial PCB Removal at McCoy Field

Release Date: 06/01/04
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

For Immediate Release: 6/1/04; Release # 04-06-03

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has reached an agreement with the City of New Bedford regarding the first stage of a major PCB cleanup at the city’s McCoy Field site.

The agreement stems from problems that arose after 1994, when the city graded the six-acre McCoy site for athletic fields using material from a former city dump. In February of this year, testing revealed significant levels of PCB contamination in subsurface soil at the site, resulting from contamination in the fill material. The city is currently testing the site and preparing for construction of a school building.

Under the settlement, the city agreed to pay a $27,500 fine for spreading the PCB contaminated fill. The city also agreed to remove all PCB contaminated soil excavated during site preparation and to prepare a plan for a long-term cleanup that protects human health. The settlement allows the city to use a lower-cost disposal option for less-contaminated soil, saving the city nearly $6 million on the cleanup. The city plans to immediately begin work on the site.

“This agreement ensures the long-term safety of people on and off the site, while using common sense to reduce the costs borne by the city,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “It’s a credit to the staff at EPA and the city who worked hard to get such a positive result in such a short period of time to allow the cleanup and redevelopment to proceed.”

Typically, soil with low PCB levels, below 50 parts per million (ppm), can be disposed of in regular landfills. However, the city’s actions in spreading the fill diluted the original PCB contamination and EPA’s regulations forbid diluting PCB-containing waste to reduce disposal costs. Therefore, the city could have been required to send all of the contaminated soil to a more-expensive hazardous waste disposal facility, at a cost of about $7.5 million.

In the settlement announced today, EPA agreed that because the city did not intentionally dilute the original fill to reduce disposal costs, it will allow the city to send soils with low PCB levels (below 50 ppm) to a non-hazardous disposal site, reducing disposal costs to $1.7 million. This disposal option is still as protective of human health as EPA’s PCB regulations require. Material with PCB levels at or above 50 ppm will go to a hazardous waste facility.

The settlement, embodied in a consent agreement, only covers excavation and other activities in the areas related to the utility corridors and foundation for the new building. New Bedford will be required to analyze all remaining PCB contamination at the site and develop a complete risk-based cleanup plan that will protect human health at the site after cleanup and construction is complete.

Related Information:
Cleanup Process
Cleanup in New England