Saturday, 2:15 PM
Millions from stimulus to clean New Bedford Harbor
By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
New England’s oldest and largest Superfund site in New Bedford Harbor is expected to receive tens of millions of dollars today in federal stimulus funds from Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson.
The $25 million to $35 million for the harbor’s clean-up will be the largest portion of the $600 million in stimulus money designated for Superfund sites across the country.
Jackson is scheduled to travel to New Bedford for the announcement to help scrub probable cancer-causing PCBs and other heavy metals from the harbor's sediment that were dumped there through the 1970s by electronics manufacturers. The area continues to be so polluted that people are warned not to eat seafood from the 18,000-acre harbor and nearby Acushnet River estuary.
Since New Bedford Harbor was placed on the Superfund list, EPA has spent more than $250 million cleaning it up. At the current rate of spending -- about $15 million a year -- the clean-up would have taken another 40 years and $1 billion to finish. Still, the funding being announced today is not expected to finish the job.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, along with Senator John F. Kerry and US Representatives Barney Frank and William Delahunt wrote a letter to Jackson in February asking for $110 million of the stimulus money for New Bedford over the next two years, calling it one of the most urgent clean-up projects in the country. New Bedford is trying to transform itself into a vibrant seaside city, but redevelopment hinges in large part on the harbor’s clean-up, authorities there have said.
“We’ve been on this mission for more than 30 years, and today we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel,’’ said Kennedy in a statement. Today’s expected announcement “is a welcome vote of confidence that great days still lie ahead for this historic whaling city.”