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EPA To Remove Hazardous Waste From Former Aerovox Facility in New Bedford

Release Date: 04/27/2004
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2004; Release # 04-04-34

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it will carry out a short-term cleanup at the former Aerovox facility in New Bedford, Mass. EPA and its contractors will begin work May 3, 2004.

EPA contractors will sample and remove drums and other containers of hazardous substances to an approved disposal facility and will repair the pavement cap on the eastern portion of the site. EPA will also further investigate portions of the building for additional contamination and determine if further immediate action is warranted. Removal activities are expected to last three months. EPA has approved up to $420,000 for these actions.

The former Aerovox facility is a three story brick building used to manufacture capacitors until 2001 when Aerovox relocated operations. The grounds and portions of the building are known to be contaminated with PCBs. EPA investigations revealed items remaining from manufacturing, including drums, compressed gas cylinders and containers within the building. An asphalt cap at the eastern end of the facility that covers PCB contaminated soil is deteriorating.

Aerovox filed for bankruptcy in June 2001; this removal action will be funded from the trust fund established by a 1999 agreement between Aerovox and EPA. The City of New Bedford has been maintaining security of the site since Aerovox’s bankruptcy.

“This cleanup will address the immediate threats at the old Aerovox property so we can continue with the City of New Bedford to work towards future redevelopment of the site,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office.

“Once again, we're pleased to participate with EPA Region I in an innovative partnership that will help us to transform one of New Bedford's former economic engines into new opportunity for future revitalization,” said Frederick M. Kalisz, Jr., Mayor of New Bedford. “This action being announced by EPA, coupled with the city's maintenance of the fire suppression system, is due to a coordinated effort by federal, state and local governments in response to challenges raised during bankruptcy proceedings.”

PCBs released from the facility contributed to contamination in New Bedford Harbor, which is now being cleaned up by EPA as a Superfund site. Dredging of PCB-contaminated sediment from the harbor is scheduled to begin in Fall 2004. The current removal action at the Aerovox plant is a separate action from the ongoing Superfund cleanup of New Bedford Harbor.

Fish, lobster and other seafood from New Bedford Harbor and the Acushnet River contain high levels of PCBs which can cause health problems 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. Those restrictions remain in place today.

Related information:
Cleanup Process
Short-Term Cleanups
New Bedford Harbor
Web site