New Bedford Harbor Pollution Essay

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New Bedford Harbor, the world’s famous whaling seaport and current number one fishing port in America, continues to be plagued by toxic pollution, which has caused it to become one of the largest EPA Superfund cleanup sites. The harbor, an urban estuary, contains sediment that is highly contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The PCB-containing industrial waste was introduced into the harbor by two manufacturing facilities from the 1940’s to the 1970’s when the EPA banned the production of PCBs. The result was contamination of six miles of the harbor bottom from the Acushnet River into Buzzards Bay; over 100,000 people currently reside within 3 miles of the contaminated area. PCBs do not break down easily in the environment and therefore pose a serious risk to human health and the environment. Thus, in 1982, the harbor was put onto the EPA’s National Priorities …show more content…

With extra funding, the EPA would be able to clean sediments down to the 1 ppm level of PCBs that the majority of similar waterway cleanups are subjected to, rather than the 50 ppm level they are planning on. This target level would allow the harbor to be safely fished for the first time in decades. Furthermore, we are demanding that the contaminated sediments are shipped off-site to a federally approved landfill as they were in the initial plan, rather than disposed of hazardously on-site in CDFs or CADs. Storing the contaminated soil on site would require that the soils be exposed to air while dewatering, which would allow the PCBs to become airborne and pose a serious health risk (4, 5). Our children and grandchildren deserve a clean harbor—one where they can swim, play, and explore without fear. This vision for the future will be a reality if we negotiate with the EPA to amend their Record of Decision with more efficient cleanup

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